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Juan Alvarez-Sorto, Karla Lopez-Gutierrez, and Deyvin Morales were the three individuals responsible for carjacking and kidnapping an FBI employee in 2022 in South Dakota. Alvarez-Sorto, 25, was sentenced to 37 years earlier in the month, followed by 29-year-old Morales receiving a 47-year prison sentence, and Lopez-Gutierrez, also 29, was handed over 26 years. The trio faced charges of kidnapping, carjacking, and other crimes, with Alvarez-Sorto also being convicted of unlawfully entering the U.S. after being deported to El Salvador, while Lopez-Gutierrez pleaded guilty in August to aiding and abetting kidnapping and a weapons charge.

The incident took place when the attackers left Greeley, Colorado, on a “drug trafficking trip” to South Dakota in a Ford Expedition. Running low on gas at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Morales suggested that they needed to “take over” a new vehicle, as testified by Lopez-Gutierrez. When the FBI employee saw the Expedition and pulled over, the suspects took his Dodge Durango at gunpoint and forced him to accompany them. The victim recounted how Alvarez-Sorto threatened his family and placed a gun against the back of his head as they drove through the Badlands. Managed to escape during a pit stop in Hermosa by crawling over Morales and running away.

Morales’ attorney argued for a reduced sentence of 20-25 years, claiming that Morales had been granted asylum in 2017 due to threats from a gang in Guatemala, which would lead to death if deported. The Assistant U.S. Attorney denounced Morales for wasting the country’s goodwill by engaging in criminal activities. Similarly, Lopez-Gutierrez’s attorney also asked for a lesser sentence, highlighting her role as a mother of three and expressing remorse for her actions. Lopez-Gutierrez also apologized to the victim and his family for the pain she caused.

Alvarez-Sorto, Morales, and Lopez-Gutierrez all had different degrees of involvement in the crime, with Alvarez-Sorto and Morales facing convictions earlier in January. The victim described how the assailants showed him no mercy, leading to his inquiry of why they had to kidnap him when they already had everything of his. He managed to escape during a stop in Hermosa, running away from them. Alvarez-Sorto and Morales were arrested a week later in Greeley, while Lopez-Gutierrez was caught in Loveland, Colorado, in August 2022.

Overall, the trio’s actions in the carjacking and kidnapping case have resulted in lengthy prison sentences for all three individuals involved. Despite their different levels of participation, they each had to face the consequences of their crimes. The victim’s harrowing experience of being abducted at gunpoint and threatened during the ordeal highlighted the severity of the situation. The defense attorneys’ pleas for leniency based on personal circumstances and remorse were ultimately ineffective in reducing the sentences handed down to the perpetrators. The case serves as a reminder of the serious repercussions of engaging in criminal activities and the importance of upholding the law to ensure justice for victims.

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