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South Dakota jury finds 2 men guilty of kidnapping, carjacking FBI employee

Two men, Deyvin Morales and Juan Alvarez-Soto, have been convicted by a federal jury in South Dakota for their involvement in the 2022 kidnapping of an FBI employee.

A federal jury in South Dakota has convicted two men on charges related to the 2022 kidnapping of an FBI employee.

The jury in Rapid City on Tuesday found 29-year-old Deyvin Morales and 25-year-old Juan Alvarez-Soto guilty of kidnapping, carjacking and other counts, the Rapid City Journal reported. Alvarez-Soto, who is from El Salvador, also was found guilty of unlawfully entering the U.S. after being deported.

Both men face sentencing April 12 and could get up to life in prison.

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The men and a third suspect, 29-year-old Karla Lopez-Gutierrez, left Greeley, Colorado, on May 5, 2022, and were on a "drug trafficking trip" to South Dakota in a Ford Expedition, prosecutors said.

The Expedition was chased by a South Dakota trooper at one point before getting away. Nearly out of gas at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Morales told the others they needed to "take over" a new vehicle, Lopez-Gutierrez testified.

A short time later, the FBI employee was speeding in his Dodge Durango when he saw the Expedition and pulled over, believing it was a tribal officer. Prosecutors said the suspects took the Durango at gunpoint and forced the victim to go along.

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When the group stopped to buy gas and zip ties at the town of Hermosa, South Dakota, about 22 miles from Red Shirt, the victim was able to escape.

Morales and Alvarez-Soto were arrested in Greeley, a week later. Lopez-Gutierrez was arrested in August 2022 in Loveland, Colorado. She pleaded guilty in August and is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 8.

Alvarez-Soto’s defense attorney, Alecia Fuller, cited "a lot of doubt" in the government's case. Fuller said there was no intent to harm the victim.

Jonathan McCoy, the attorney for Morales, said there was no proof that Morales was even present for the crime.

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