NATIONAL NEWS

Man gets 37-year sentence for kidnapping FBI employee in South Dakota

Apr 16, 2024, 9:15 AM

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — One of three people convicted of carjacking and kidnapping an FBI employee in South Dakota has been sentenced to 37 years in prison.

Juan Alvarez-Sorto, 25, was sentenced Friday in federal court, the Rapid City Journal reported. Alvarez-Sorto and Deyvin Morales, 29, were found guilty in January. Alvarez-Sorto also was convicted of unlawfully entering the U.S. after being deported to his home country, El Salvador.

A third suspect, 29-year-old Karla Lopez-Gutierrez, pleaded guilty in August. Morales and Lopez-Gutierrez are both scheduled for sentencing April 26.

Prosecutors said the trio left Greeley, Colorado, on May 5, 2022, and were on a “drug trafficking trip” to South Dakota in a Ford Expedition. Nearly out of gas at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Morales told the others they needed to “take over” a new vehicle, Lopez-Gutierrez testified in January.

A short time later, the FBI employee speeding in his Dodge Durango saw the Expedition and pulled over, believing it was a tribal officer. Prosecutors said the suspects took the Durango at gunpoint and forced the victim to go along.

“I’m still haunted by the trauma you inflicted upon me,” the victim told Alvarez-Sorto at the sentencing hearing. He said Alvarez-Sorto threatened his family and held a gun to the back of his head as he was face-down in the Badlands.

When the group stopped to buy gas and zip ties in the town of Hermosa, South Dakota, the victim managed to escape.

Morales and Alvarez-Sorto were arrested in Greeley a week later. Lopez-Gutierrez was arrested in August 2022 in Loveland, Colorado.

Alvarez-Sorto’s attorney, Alecia Fuller, said his client was remorseful and noted that relatives had abused Alvarez-Sorto as a child.

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