One of three defendants charged by federal prosecutors with kidnapping and killing a San Diego man pleaded guilty Thursday.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says Miguel Anthony Rendon was abducted from a Tijuana hotel on May 29, 2020, by perpetrators who called Rendon's family and demanded money and drugs in exchange for his return.
According to prosecutors, the hostage takers demanded between $2,000 and $3,000 in cash or methamphetamine. Rendon was punched, kicked, and pistol-whipped by his attackers and later shot in the head, according to the defendant's plea agreements.
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Court documents state that the victim was initially tasked with crossing into the U.S. at the San Ysidro Port of Entry with methamphetamine strapped to his body, but instead stole the drugs and was kidnapped in retaliation.
His body was transported from Tijuana to San Diego two years later in a cardboard box.
Luis Armando Dorantes Rivera Jr. pleaded guilty on Thursday, while co-defendants Wyatt Valencia-Pacheco and Alan Lomeli-Luna entered their guilty pleas earlier this year. All three are set to be sentenced this fall in San Diego federal court.
"This is a tragic case where a young man paid the ultimate price for getting involved with the wrong people, and his family is forever devastated," said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. "Drug traffickers don't hesitate to use extreme violence. We will not hesitate to seek justice for victims."