Sixth suspect in Mercedes fatal kidnapping turned murder gets $1.3M bond

Gerson Escobar Orellana

The sixth suspect involved in the death of 19-year-old Carlos Garcia Ruiz, who orchestrated an attempted aggravated kidnapping of a Mercedes man in late February, was formally charged on Sunday.

Gerson Escobar Orellana, 20, had been taken into federal custody alongside Erik Eduardo Almaraz, 22, after they were found attempting to cross the Border Patrol checkpoint near Falfurrias the day after Garcia was killed.

Orellana was also charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping and murder.

During Almaraz’s arraignment, investigators added additional charges to alleged co-conspirators 17-year-old Rosalba Sarahi, 18-year-old Joselyn Gabriela Lomeli, 19-year-old Esmeralda Lee Orozco and 21-year-old Ashley Dinhora Orozco. Those charges being two counts of aggravated kidnapping.

These charges stem from the group’s involvement in the attempted kidnapping of Mercedes resident Juan Ramirez and his friend Joe Anthony Valdez, which occurred on Feb. 23.

Sheriff’s deputies responded to the 6000 block of Vera Lane in rural Mercedes in reference to aggravated kidnapping where they encountered Ramirez who told police he was approached by two masked men armed with rifles.

“One of the men pushed a gun against the back of [Ramirez’s] head with the butt of the rifle causing the rifle to go off and strike the second male subject,” the criminal complaint said.

Valdez said two girls and three armed men showed up at Ramirez’s home. One suspect pushed a gun to the back of his head and put him into a truck face down.

When the gunshot went off, the man told Valdez to get out and walk away slowly or else he’d shoot.

Valdez then saw that the girls had taken his friend’s red 2014 Ford Fusion which they used to drive Ruiz to Knapp Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

It’s unclear how involved the Orozco sisters were in the conspiracy to kidnap Ramirez and Valdez, but a criminal complaint stated that Ramirez planned to meet both to “hook up,” eventually sending Esmer his address.

Hidalgo County Sheriff J.E. “Eddie” Guerra said on Feb. 28 that the people involved have ties to human smugglers.

He added that police believe the possible motive for the kidnapping was that Ramirez owed Ruiz money or he might’ve stolen “some bodies” from him.

The four women involved remain jailed at the Hidalgo County Adult Detention Center on $1.4 million in bonds following the additional charges while Orellana and Almarez had their bonds set at $1.3 million in total.