2 Accused of holding smuggled Honduran boy for ransom in Phoenix

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Frances Salas and Jesus Millan-Rodriguez By Jennifer Thomas Frances Salas and Jesus Millan-Rodriguez By Jennifer Thomas
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Two people in Phoenix are facing kidnapping charges after authorities said they held a smuggled Honduran boy hostage and attempted to extort more money from his family.

Frances Salas, 27, a U.S. citizen and resident of Phoenix, and Jesus Millan-Rodriguez, 31, a Mexican national, were arrested and booked into the Maricopa County Jail. Each is charged with kidnapping and possession of marijuana for sale.

Around noon Friday, the boy's mother contacted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to report that her son had recently been smuggled into the U.S. and was being held at an unknown Phoenix location.

The woman said the smugglers were demanding she pay additional smuggling fees and she feared for her son's safety, according to ICE officials.

HSI Phoenix special agents were notified and worked to develop information on the possible location of the drop house. By late Friday night, they believed the boy was being held in an apartment complex near Interstate 17 and Bethany Home Road.

Special agents and Phoenix police officers went to the apartment and discovered the 13-year-old boy in the custody of Salas and Millan-Rodriguez. They reportedly also found a pound of marijuana inside the apartment.

The boy was not injured and was turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Refugee Resettlement.

"This case illustrates yet again the inhumanity of the human smuggling trade," said Matt Allen, special agent in charge of HSI Arizona. "The sad but simple fact is, to the smuggling organization, this child is nothing more than a business commodity. Parents need to understand that when they contract with smugglers, they place their children into the hands of a ruthless criminal network, possibly endangering their child's life."

The investigation is ongoing.