Hatch man pleads guilty to hostage taking            

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ALBUQUERQUE – Mario Balcazar, 23, of Hatch, New Mexico, pleaded guilty in federal court on Sept. 24 to a charge of hostage taking. Balcazar remains in custody pending a sentencing hearing.

According to the plea agreement, on or about May 9, Balcazar picked up an illegal alien on the United States side of the United-States-Mexico border and drove her to his residence in Doña Ana County, New Mexico. Balcazar then detained the victim until her family paid him $1,500.

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Balcazar faces up to life in prison and a five-year mandatory term of supervised release of supervised release.

Homeland Security Investigations and the U.S. Border Patrol investigated this case.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rachel Feuerhammer, Luis A. Martinez, and Nicole Hammond are prosecuting the case.

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