Woman sentenced to life in prison for Mexican gang kidnappings

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gavelSAN DIEGO — A woman who on two occasions lured men to locations in San Diego County where they were beaten and held for ransom by members of the Mexico-based Los Palillos gang was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Nancy Mendoza Moreno, 25, was convicted of multiple counts of kidnapping for ransom with bodily injury and conspiracy to commit kidnapping for ransom in the 2007 abductions of Jorge Garcia Vasquez, brother-in-law of notorious cartel financier Jesus “Chuy” Labra, and wealthy businessman Eduardo Gonzalez- Tostado.

Authorities said a then-19-year-old Mendoza Moreno met Garcia Vasquez, who was in his 50s, at a gym and asked him to be her trainer. One day in early 2007, the victim accompanied the defendant on what he thought was an errand and was jumped at a traffic stop and taken to a stash house. Garcia was eventually released after ransom was paid.

The defendant met her second victim, Gonzalez-Tostado, at a coffee shop on June 8, 2007, and immediately lured him to a Chula Vista home with a false hope that the two would be intimate. Instead, Gonzalez-Tostado was beaten by masked gunmen wearing police uniforms.

The gunmen turned out to be members of the Mexican gang Los Palillos, authorities said.

After the victim’s family came up with nearly $194,000 to pay for Gonzalez-Tostado’s safe return, a tracking device was placed in a container with the money, ultimately leading to his rescue on June 16, 2007, and the defendant’s arrest.

Jurors acquitted Mendoza Moreno of a third kidnapping-for-ransom. Authorities said the kidnappers netted about $1 million in ransom from that October 2006 kidnapping and the kidnapping of Garcia Vasquez.

Several members of the Los Palillos gang have also been convicted in connection with the kidnappings.

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