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Pair indicted in hostage-taking death of San Diego teen

A pair of handcuffs in shown in this undated file photo.
Alexander Nguyen
A pair of handcuffs is shown in this undated file photo.

Two Mexican nationals have been indicted on drug trafficking and hostage-taking charges in connection with the killing of a San Diego teenager in Mexico.

Prosecutors say the 19-year-old victim, identified in court papers only by his initials, stole drugs that he was planning to smuggle from Mexico into the U.S. In response, alleged drug traffickers kidnapped the teen from a Tijuana hotel at gunpoint and took him hostage in an effort to extort his parents, according to prosecutors.

The alleged kidnappers eventually cut off contact with the family. The victim has not been seen or heard from since May 30, 2020, and is presumed dead, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sunday.

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A federal grand jury handed down an indictment against two Tijuana residents, 21-year-old Wyatt Valencia-Pacheco and 22-year-old Jonathan Emmanuel Montellano-Mora, in June. The indictment was unsealed last week, the newspaper reported.

It accuses the duo of intentional killing while engaged in drug trafficking, a charge punishable by a minimum of 20 years in federal prison, and two charges that carry minimum life sentences: hostage-taking resulting in death and conspiracy to take hostages resulting in death.

Valencia-Pacheco is in custody, and a federal magistrate judge on Friday declined to release him on bond. Montellano-Mora remains a fugitive. It wasn't known Monday if either man has an attorney.