Edward J. Schwartz building
Edward J. Schwartz federal office building in downtown San Diego. Photo via casd.uscourts.gov

A recently unsealed indictment charges two Mexican men with kidnapping and killing a young San Diego man, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday.

Wyatt Valencia-Pacheco, 21, and Jonathan Emmanuel Montellano-Mora, 22, both of Tijuana, are accused of kidnapping the victim, 19, last year.

The teen, who has not been seen for almost 17 months, stole three pounds of methamphetamine from a drug trafficker connected to the defendants, prosecutors said, a theft that resulted in his torture and killing.

Officials identified the victim only as “M.A.R.”

Immediately after the theft on May 28, 2020, prosecutors allege Valencia-Pacheco started threatening the victim, ordering him to return the drugs or pay them $2,000.

Valencia-Pacheco allegedly made several statements to others indicating his plans to kidnap and/or kill the victim, and discussing where to do so.

The teen was forcibly taken from a Tijuana hotel at gunpoint just before midnight a day after the theft. Hotel surveillance cameras captured three men taking the victim, with one of them pistol whipping him in the process.

The following day, prosecutors say the hostage takers demanded up to $3,000 and drugs from the victim’s mother and stepfather. Through FaceTime, the victim’s family saw that he “appeared bloodied and beaten,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Valencia-Pacheco was then allegedly heard making statements about where to kill the victim, who has not been heard from since, prosecutors said.

The court ordered Valencia-Pacheco to be held without bond on Friday in San Diego. Montellano-Mora remains a fugitive.

“The narcotic netherworld is full of extreme danger and tragedy, and this case is no exception,” said acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “A misguided youth tangled with the wrong people and paid a terrible price, and now his family lives with the unspeakable horror of their loss.”

Valencia-Pacheco is next due in court on Dec. 16 before U.S. District Court Judge William Q. Hayes.

– City News Service