Thursday, December 05, 2013

Trafficking: US - Three Defendants Indicted on Alien Smuggling, Extortion, and Kidnapping Conspiracy Charges

U.S. Attorney’s Office 
Southern District of Florida

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Michael B. Steinbach, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office; and Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), Miami Field Office, announce the return of a grand jury indictment in United States v. Lazo et al., Case No. 13-20871-Cr-Lenard, against Eliezer Lazo, 40, formerly of Miami Lakes; Joel Martinez Hernandez, 37, formerly of unincorporated Dade; and Yilian Hernandez, 30, of Hialeah. The indictment, unsealed today, alleges that Lazo and Martinez Hernandez conspired to bring certain aliens into the United States, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(v)(I), and that Lazo, Martinez Hernandez, and Yilian Hernandez conspired to commit hostage taking, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1203(a), and conspired to extort, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951(a).

The government is also seeking forfeiture of the defendants’ interests and title to all property in a lawsuit related to Estrellas del Beisbol and a bank account belonging to that company, as well as forfeiture of the defendants’ interests in contracts with 13 other individuals.

Yilian Hernandez was arrested this morning in Miami-Dade County and will have her initial appearance tomorrow, December 5, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres. Lazo and Martinez Hernandez are currently in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, serving sentences for other offenses. The United States has begun the process of having Lazo and Martinez Hernandez returned to Miami to face the new charges.

If convicted, the defendants face a maximum term of life in prison.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and ICE-HSI. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys H. Ron Davidson and Evelyn B. Sheehan.

An indictment is only an accusation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.