SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – After a seven-day jury trial, yesterday, a federal jury convicted Jairo Huertas-Mercado and Erik Pizarro-Mercado for six carjackings, one kidnapping, one kidnapping murder, and related firearms offenses.
According to court documents and the evidence presented at trial, the defendants committed the following offenses:
- May 20, 2018-the armed carjacking of a 2016 Toyota Tacoma
The victim was driving his Tacoma toward Naguabo, PR, in the Rio Blanco sector, when the defendants and two others used another vehicle to block the driver of the Tacoma. The defendants and another participant showed their firearms at the victim and forced him out of the Tacoma. The participants then took the victim’s Tacoma and other-personal property. The Tacoma was subsequently used in furtherance of another carjacking.
- May 27, 2018-the armed carjacking of a 2004 Infiniti
The defendants used the Tacoma that they carjacked on May 20, 2018 to carjack an Infiniti. Specifically, the defendants and two-other participants drove the Tacoma up to a family who were enjoying their day in the area of El Yunque. There, they showed firearms at the members of the family and took the Infiniti and the family’s personal property, including cameras which the participants used in another carjacking. Eventually, the participants burned the Infiniti in an area where they killed Luis Saenz-Matias.
- May 31, 2018-the kidnapping murder of Luis Saenz-Matías
The defendants and another kidnapped Luis Saenz-Matias because they believed him to be a member of a rival group. The defendants were members of a drug trafficking group that was at odds with a group which the defendants believed Sanz-Matias was a member. The defendants and the other participant took Luis Saenz-Matias to the area where they had burned the Infiniti in La Central, Canovanas, PR and shot and killed him.
- June 3, 2018-the armed carjacking of a 2009 Nissan Altima on June 3, 2018
Jairo Huertas-Mercado and another participated in this carjacking which occurred at the beach in Piñones, PR. At first, Jairo Huertas-Mercado and the other participant used cameras taken from the victims of the Inifiniti carjacking to pretend to be doing a photo shoot so as to not raise the victim’s suspicions. They then pointed firearms at the victims—a male and his two female friends. The other participant in the offense hit one of the females. Then, Jairo Huertas-Mercado and the other participant took the Altima.
- June 4, 2018- the armed carjacking of a red-burgundy Toyota Camry
The defendants and another carjacked the Camry from an elderly couple who were fishing for crabs near Tropical beach in Naguabo. The participants first blocked the Camry and then pointed firearms at the couple. They then took the Camry from the couple. The Camry was immediately used in furtherance of another carjacking that day.
- June 4, 2018- the armed carjacking of a 2016 Kia Sportage
Soon after the carjacking of the Camry, the defendants took a Sportage from a female victim that had just come from her church in Canovanas, PR. The defendants used the Camry to block the front of the victim’s vehicle. The other participant of the carjacking of the Camry was behind the Sportage. A firearm was displayed at the victim, and the defendants took the Sportage from the female victim. Then, the female victim asked for help from the driver of the vehicle behind her who unbeknownst to her was the other participant of the carjacking of the Camry and was with the ones who had just carjacked her. The other participant did not help the female victim and drove after the defendants, who had just taken the Sportage. The Sportage was used by the defendants and two others to carjack and kidnap Bryan Rohena-Perez, who is better known by his stage name Bryant Myers. After the kidnapping and carjacking of Bryant Myers, the Sportage was burned.
- June 5, 2018- carjacking and kidnapping of Bryan Rohena-Pérez, also known as Bryant Myers and his mother
Jairo Huertas-Mercado had a grudge with Bryant Myers because of the death of Jairo Huertas-Mercado’s cousin—Corroro, who Bryant Myers mentioned in a song. In retaliation, defendants and two others set out in the Sportage to kidnap Bryant Myers who they knew was in the basketball court in Loma Alta, Carolina, PR. Once the participants arrived at Loma Alta, they went towards Bryant Myers and pointed firearms at him. They then forced Bryant Myers into the Sportage. Bryant Myers struggled and one of the participants used a gun to hit Bryant Myers in the head. While this is happening, Bryant Myers’ mom went to the scene and pled with the armed participants, asking them not to harm her son. Meanwhile, other persons approached the participants, and one of the participants shot in the air to disperse the crowd. Jairo Huertas-Mercado then took Bryant Myers’ mom in Bryant Myers’ BMW X6 SUV and Erick Pizarro-Mercado and the other two participants took Bryant Myers in the Sportage. They drove to a land fill in Carolina. There, police arrived at the scene, and Bryant Myers was able to jump out of the Sportage. Bryant Myers’ mom also got out of the BMW. She was unharmed. On that date, the defendants and the other-two participants escaped from the police.
Because of their conviction for the kidnapping murder, both defendants face mandatory-life sentences, in addition to any sentence imposed for the remaining convictions.
U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow of the District of Puerto Rico; and Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Joseph González made the announcement.
The FBI and the Puerto Rico Police Bureau were in charge of investigating these cases.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Victor O. Acevedo-Hernández prosecuted the case.