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Smugglers Hold Child for Ransom

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Posted: Feb 13, 2013 7:22 PM

Updated: Feb 13, 2013 8:02 PM

HOUSTON - A woman's attempt to have her children smuggled into the United States turned into a nightmare.

The woman, Miriam Moreno, paid human smugglers to have her two sons taken from Honduras to Houston. They only delivered one.

"I can't sleep. I'm really worried, and I will be until I have my kids. I have faith in God that I'm going to get good news about my boy," Moreno said.

Moreno came to the United States several years ago.

"It's not easy. Just imagine washing dishes and working at a restaurant. It's real tiring. I had money to buy them a house," Moreno said.

She saved money to have her sons smuggled into the country. Jerry, 15, was delivered to her in Houston. Jason, 10, was held for ransom.

Moreno said the smugglers sent her threatening text messages. The smugglers told her they would abandon his child or turn him over to the Border Patrol if she didn't pay.

Moreno said she didn't have any more money. She had paid $13,000 to have the boys smuggled to Houston. Jerry told his mother the men were ruthless criminals.

"They treated us very bad," Jerry said. "They would hit us on the head and give us some sort of pill in our juice."

Jerry said he tried to protect his younger brother, but the pills would put him to sleep.

"I would tell him not to leave my side," Jerry said.

"We aren't leaving until the give my back my boy. ... Until I know something about where he is," Moreno said.

She called the Honduras consulate when the smugglers stopped answering her calls.

"The reason we are here as a consulate is because our citizens, even if illegal, have right in the United States," Honduras Consul Orlen Zuniga said.

Consular officials located Jason a few hours later. He had been picked up by Border Patrol in the Valley.

Zuniga said a good outcome is rare.

"We witness many heartbreaking stories from mothers here. They go with their visas to find their children without knowing where they are. They go to the Valley and visit hospitals and the deserts to see if they find their family member alive," Zuniga said.

Moreno was elated to hear her son had been found safe.

The Honduras consulate and Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are investigating Jason's case.

The family will have to wait until the investigation ends to find out if Jason is allowed to join in family in Houston.

Topics: miriam moreno, ransom, illegal immigration, houston, honduras

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