Kidnapped Salvadoran Kids Rescued by ICE Agents in Phoenix


Three kids from El Salvador, held for ransom after their parents paid to have them smuggled into the United States, were released in Phoenix after ICE agents began working the case.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau got wind of the kidnapping on Monday and "worked round-the-clock" to find the children, ages 11 to 15. As a result of the effort, an ICE news release says, the children were released unharmed on Tuesday morning at a west Phoenix business.

It sounds like the kids were held by the kidnappers for at least two weeks, judging by the news release. ICE declined to release full details about the case.

The Salvadoran parents, who live in Washington D.C., paid $13,000 to have their children smuggled into the country, according to ICE.

After the kids arrived in late April, the kidnappers demanded that the parents shell out an extra $6,500. But the thugs weren't satisfied even when the parents paid up -- they then demanded another $7,000, ICE says.

Only at that point, the ICE release says, did the parents become concerned enough about their kids' safety that they called authorities. ICE is working to have the children, who were "frightened, but appeared to be in good health," reunited with their parents.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.