EL PASO – Fernando Angel Puga, aka Cholo, 37, of Las Cruces, was sentenced last week to 372 months in prison for kidnapping and carjacking.
According to court documents and evidence presented at trial, on June 9, 2017, Puga and his co-defendant Sergio Ivan Quinonez-Venegas, 38, from Mexico, approached a man working at a food truck in El Paso. Puga and Quinonez told the victim their car had broken down and asked for a ride. While the victim was giving the defendants a ride to a nearby gas station, Quinonez pulled out a gun and advised the victim that this “was a kidnapping.” The victim was forced at gunpoint and knifepoint to drive the pair from El Paso to Las Cruces. Once in Las Cruces, the victim was struck and stabbed multiple times by a machete wielded by Puga, fracutring the victim’s skull and severely puncturing his body and hands.
On May 24, 2022, Puga was found guilty by a federal jury of one count of kidnapping; one count of carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury; and one count of transportation of a stolen vehicle in interstate commerce. Puga has remained in federal custody since his arrest on April 17, 2019.
“I am thankful that this violent criminal will have a long time behind bars to reflect on his heinous actions while the community is made safer,” said US Attorney Ashley C. Hoff. “I am also hopeful that the victim experiences healing and finds some solace in defendant’s removal from society. I laud the efforts of our law enforcement partners who worked to bring Puga to justice.”
“When faced with a deadly situation, the victim fought off the attackers and managed to escape,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey R. Downey, El Paso Field Office. “The courage and determination showed by the victim is awe inspiring. The victim was not only able to escape but also assist law enforcement in the identification and arrest of the defendant and bring about the justice deserved in this violent abduction. We hope this sentencing will help the victim heal from the physical and mental wounds affected in this horrific incident.”
On February 2, 2022, Quinonez pleaded guilty to one count of carjacking. On September 29, 2022, Quinonez was sentenced to 60 months in prison. He has remained in federal custody since his arrest on May 10, 2019.
The FBI El Paso Field Office, with valuable assistance from FBI Albuquerque; U.S. Border Patrol; Dona Ana County New Mexico Sheriff’s Office; El Paso Police Department; and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice K-9 unit, investigated the case.
Assistant US Attorneys Ian Martinez Hanna and Ellen Denum prosecuted the case.