Final suspect in deadly kidnapping attempt near Mercedes arraigned

8 months 2 weeks 1 day ago Sunday, March 19 2023 Mar 19, 2023 March 19, 2023 5:13 PM March 19, 2023 in News - Local

The sixth and final suspect in a deadly kidnapping attempt near Mercedes was arraigned Sunday.

Gerson Escobar Orellana, 20, was identified as a co-conspirator in a February aggravated kidnapping that was later reclassified to murder, according to a news release from the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office.

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 and a second individual — Joe Anthony Valdez — were assaulted by multiple armed suspects during an attempted kidnapping at his residence.

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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.

Orellana was in federal custody since February on unrelated charges, and was transported to Hidalgo County on Friday, the news release stated.

Orellana was taken before Justice of the Peace Jason Pena and was arraigned on charges of murder and two counts of aggravated kidnapping. His bond was set at $1.3 million, according to the release.

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