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2 New Mexico men charged with hostage taking following HSI El Paso investigation

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — On Jan. 24, a federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment charging two men from Sunland Park with conspiracy to take a hostage.

HSI El Paso special agents investigated the case with help from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Saul Castorena, 41, and his brother, Steven Castorena, 40, are charged with conspiracy to take a hostage, two counts of hostage taking, conspiracy related to harboring undocumented noncitizens, and two counts of harboring an undocumented noncitizen. Saul Castorena is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, and possession of a firearm not registered with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record. Both brothers remain in custody pending trial, which is set for Feb. 26.

According to the indictment, between Jan. 15 and Jan. 18, 2023, the two brothers detained and threatened to kill or injure two people who had entered and remained in the United States unlawfully unless a third party paid a ransom for their release. During this time, Saul Castorena, knowing that he had previously been convicted of crimes related to transporting undocumented noncitizens for financial gain, possessed an unregistered shotgun with a barrel less than 18 inches.

An indictment is only an allegation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, each defendant faces up to life in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy Castellano and Devon Aragon Martinez are prosecuting the case.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

To report suspicious smuggling activity, call 877-4-HSI-TIP (877-447-4847). For more information on HSI El Paso’s efforts to investigate human smuggling in West Texas and the state of New Mexico, follow us on X, formerly known as Twitter, @HSIElPaso.

Originally published at

- Part of VUGA -USA media group