Fifth suspect charged in fatal kidnapping near Mercedes

Fifth suspect charged in fatal kidnapping near Mercedes
1 year 3 months 6 days ago Thursday, March 16 2023 Mar 16, 2023 March 16, 2023 6:21 PM March 16, 2023 in News - Local

A fifth person arrested in connection to a fatal kidnapping near Mercedes was charged Thursday for his alleged role in the incident.

Four suspects who were previously arraigned on murder charges are also facing new charges.

Erik Eduardo Almarez was arrested last month after he was identified as a co-conspirator in an attempted kidnapping that killed 19-year-old Carlos Garcia Ruiz.

RELATED: Hidalgo County sheriff: Fatal kidnapping attempt near Mercedes linked to human smuggling ring

Deputies with the sheriff’s office responded to the 6800 block of Vera Lane Thursday at around 3:45 a.m. on Feb. 23, where the homeowner — identified as 19-year-old Juan Ramirez — said he was assaulted by multiple armed suspects during an attempted kidnapping at his residence. 

A second victim — Joe Anthony Valdez — was identified in a Thursday news release from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.

During the assault, one of the male suspects fired his rifle, which struck Ruiz.

Deputies later learned Ruiz arrived at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco and succumbed to his injuries.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said in a news conference last month that the attempted kidnapping was linked to a human smuggling ring, and that the group targeted Ramirez for allegedly stealing some of their business. 

Almarez was taken into federal custody in Corpus Christi on unrelated charges the following day.

On Tuesday, Almarez was transported to the Hidalgo County Detention Center. He was charged with murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.

His bond was set at $1.3 million.

Four suspects — Ashley Orozco, Esmeralda Lee Orozco, Joselyn Lomeli and Rosalba Garcia — were previously charged with murder and tampering with evidence in connection with the investigation. On Thursday, all four received two additional charges of aggravated kidnapping.

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