A 40-year-old Port Arthur man has been sentenced to federal prison for carjacking as a result of Operation Time Machine.
Rigoberto Gaytan Valenzia pleaded guilty on Jan. 6, 2011 to federal carjacking violations and was sentenced to 116 months in federal prison today by U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield.
According to information presented in court, from July 16, 2010 to Aug. 6, 2010, Valenzia conspired with two other Port Arthur men, 32-year-old Patrick Allen Chaney and 32-year-old Kevin Nguyen, to kidnap a 24-year-old Port Arthur man and hold him for ransom.
Chaney and Valenzia and both previously performed construction work for Nguyen, who was a construction contractor.
Nguyen approached Chaney and Valenzia and asked them to help kidnap the victim and promised to share a portion of the ransom proceeds, which was to be paid by the victim's family.
Prior to the kidnapping, Chaney, Valenzia, and Nguyen traveled together on one or more occasions to conduct surveillance on the victim and the victim's family.
On Aug. 5, 2010, at approximately 6:30 p.m., Chaney, using the alias "Gary Underwood," called the victim on his cell phone and asked the victim to fix a computer.
On Aug. 6, 2010, at approximately 2:00 p.m., Chaney, using the same alias "Gary Underwood," again called the victim's cell phone and requested that the victim fix a computer.
Chaney instructed the victim to meet him at 3748 Proctor Street in Port Arthur, in order to pick up the computer.
At approximately 3:28 p.m., Chaney met the victim at 3748 Proctor Street and lured the victim into the house. Upon entering the house, Valenzia, confronted the victim with a Savage/Stevens, Model 96, 16 gauge short-barreled shotgun and told the victim to lay face down on the ground and not to move or else he would shoot the victim.
Chaney proceeded to blind fold the victim and bound the victim's hands with duct tape. Valenzia and Chaney put the victim in the back of a van and bound his feet with duct tape. Valenzia and Chaney took a knife from the back of the van and placed it against the victim's neck and leg, and told the victim that they would cut him if he moved.
Chaney then removed the victim's car keys and cell phone from the victim's pockets and took the victim's car which was parked in the driveway. Nguyen drove up to the residence and instructed that Chaney was to follow Nguyen in the victim's vehicle.
Valenzia left the residence in his van with the victim still bound in the back and planned to take the victim back to his apartment. While in route, the victim was able to maneuver to the front of the vehicle and lodge himself against Valenzia and the inside wall of the van.
Valenzia choked the victim with his hands in order to try and regain control over him. After a brief struggle, Valenzia stopped the vehicle and opened the driver's side door in order to free himself.
Once the door was opened, the victim fell out of the vehicle, managed to free one of his legs, and then ran away. A passing motorist observed the victim running away from the vehicle and called Port Arthur Police.
Valenzia got back into the van and then called Nguyen on his cell phone and informed him that the victim had escaped. Valenzia attempted to flee in the van, but was apprehended by Port Arthur Police officers after a short chase.
Port Arthur Police recovered the Savage/Stevens, Model 96, 16 gauge shotgun used in the kidnapping and carjacking. A federal grand jury returned an indictment on Sep. 8, 2010, charging Valenzia, Nguyen, and Chaney with federal violations.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods' Operation Time Machine program. Operation Time Machine is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, ammunition and body armor, and improving the safety of residents in Port Arthur, Texas. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
Chaney pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Nguyen remains at large. If you have information regarding the whereabouts of Kevin Nguyen, please contact the U.S. Marshals Service at 409-839-2581.
This case was investigated by the Port Arthur Police Department and the ATF and prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Baylor Wortham.