UNITED STATES NEWS

2nd teen charged in kidnapping migrants in Houston

Apr 17, 2023, 4:35 PM

HOUSTON (AP) — A second teenager has been charged with kidnapping several migrants and allegedly holding them captive for several days at a Houston hotel before they were rescued by FBI agents during a confrontation that ended with the fatal shooting of another suspect, authorities said Monday.

Demarcus Celestine, 17, was charged on Saturday with three counts of aggravated kidnapping, according to court records.

His arrest was made public on Monday by a tweet from the FBI’s Houston office, which said Celestine had been arrested by FBI agents and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Houston.

Celestine, who appeared in court Monday, remained jailed on bonds totaling $300,000.

An attorney for Celestine didn’t immediately return a call or an email seeking comment.

Authorities allege the kidnapping began March 18 in neighboring Waller County when three migrants who had been traveling on Interstate 10 were stopped and forced from a vehicle.

The migrants’ driver might have called 911 and informed the Waller County Sheriff’s Office about the kidnapping, authorities said. The sheriff’s office later worked with the FBI to find the migrants.

Prosecutors allege Celestine took the migrants — two women and one man — at gunpoint to the north Houston hotel, “where he held (them) under threat of death by firearm, sending messages to family members to bring money in exchange for their release,” according to court records.

Celestine is accused, along with two other suspects, of “using physical violence” against the migrants as they were held for several days.

A person familiar with the matter previously told The Associated Press that the kidnappers were paid after making demands for money, but then asked for more money. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly, also said the kidnappers at one point sent the family of one of the migrants, all of whom had crossed into the U.S. illegally from Mexico, a video showing them beating an older man.

On March 23, five days after the migrants were abducted, FBI agents rescued the migrants from the hotel. One of the suspects, later identified as Alberto Montes II, 20, was fatally shot. Montes’ parents told KTRK earlier this month they are still seeking answers from authorities about why their son was fatally shot. The FBI’s investigation of the shooting remains ongoing, said agency spokesperson Connor Hagan.

Another suspect, Josiah Jackson, 17, has been charged with two counts of aggravated kidnapping. Jackson remained jailed on bonds totaling $200,000.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/juanlozano70.

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Associated Press reporter Jake Bleiberg contributed to this report from Dallas.

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2nd teen charged in kidnapping migrants in Houston