2 Charged with kidnapping, human smuggling after kids found in Phoenix drop housePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Ten juveniles were rescued from a South Phoenix drop house Thursday and three suspected human smugglers were taken into custody.
An investigation began after the parents of three girls told the FBI that their daughters, ages 12, 14 and 16, were kidnapped from a village in El Salvador. The girls were said to be in the Phoenix area.
During the investigation, it was discovered the girls were not kidnapped but were actually smuggled into the country. The suspects were now attempting to extort additional money from the victims' parents.
Federal agents and Phoenix police officers raided the drop house near Seventh and Southern avenues Thursday afternoon and found the teenage girls and other children.
The children came from various locations. The three sisters, along with two other girls who are sisters ages 7 and 14 and another 17-year-old girl, were from El Salador.
Two unaccompanied boys ages 6 and 17, as well as a teen girl who was with her mother, were from Mexico.
Also rescued was a 2 to 3-year-old unaccompanied girl from Guatemala.
A man and woman who were seen driving away from the home were taken into custody.
Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos said those two suspects have been identified as Jaime Cruz-Gutierrez, 44, and Olga Marinos Fuentes, 41. They were booked on charges of kidnapping for ransom, smuggling humans for profit and theft by extortion.
A third suspect, who was found inside the home, told investigators he was also smuggled into the country but was unable to pay and now had to work guarding the others in the home.
Police said the suspected smugglers were attempting to extort money from the juveniles' parents and threatening to sexually assault the teenage girls.