FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A man from Mexico accused of smuggling a family to Fresno after they illegally crossed the southern border was arraigned in federal court on Thursday, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Officials say 31-year-old Cristian Ortiz Coronado, a resident of Mexico, is facing charges of kidnapping, hostage-taking, and transporting illegal aliens.
Coronado was originally arrested in Fresno by the city’s police department on August 25 after officers learned about the migrant family kidnapping.
Court documents state that Coronado was hired to deliver the family to Fresno – which included a mother, her four-year-old daughter, and her nine-year-old son. He then locked the doors and would not let them leave until he was given an additional $21,000 from relatives. Federal officials say family members did not have that money and tried to stop Coronado from leaving, leading to him driving away with the mother and her nine-year-old son, leaving the four-year-old behind.
Police say they were able to track down the suspect in a parking lot in Madera, and they led the suspects back to Fresno where they took them into custody.
If convicted, federal prosecutors say Ortiz Coronado faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $3 million fine.