Men to serve multiple life terms for kidnappings, murders

Beritan, Valencia convicted of kidnapping, murders

SAN DIEGO - Multiple terms of life in prison without parole were handed down Friday for two members of a Mexican kidnap-murder crew who took part in the 2007 strangulation deaths of two men whose bodies were dissolved in acid in San Ysidro.

Jose Olivera Beritan, 38, and David Valencia, 42, were convicted in May of murder, conspiracy and kidnapping for ransom in the deaths of Cesar Uribe and Marc Leon. Beritan was also convicted in the death of Ivan Lozano, whose body was found in the trunk of a car in Clairemont two weeks after he was kidnapped on March 23, 2007.

Jose Olivera Beritan, 38, received five terms of life in prison. David Valencia, 42, was sentenced to two terms of life in prison. Both will serve their prison terms consecutively for the deaths of Cesar Uribe and Marc Leon.

"If ever there were two individuals that deserve absolutely no breaks, it's the two before the court today," said Superior Court Judge John Einhorn before he sentenced the two men.

Beritan was also convicted in the death of Ivan Lozano, whose body was found in the trunk of a car in Clairemont two weeks after he was kidnapped on March 23, 2007.

The bodies of Uribe, a drug trafficker, and Leon, his associate, were found dissolved in acid two years after they were abducted on May 3, 2007, on a property in San Ysidro where Valencia kept horses.

Prosecutors said Beritan and Valencia belonged to Los Palillos, or the Toothpicks, an Arellano Felix cartel splinter group that for years shipped drugs through Tijuana to San Diego.

Both defendants were also convicted of the June 8, 2007, kidnapping of a wealthy businessman, Eduardo Gonzalez-Tostado, who was rescued from a house in Chula Vista, leading to the arrests of the defendants.

Lead prosecutor Mark Amador said Uribe's family heard from his kidnappers, who demanded money, and two ransom drops took place. He said Valencia and Uribe were involved in illegal drug trafficking together, but a dispute arose over a debt.

The families of Lozano and Leon never heard from them or their kidnappers

"[ Beritan and Valencia] could care less about anybody else… have no conscience," said deputy district attorney Mark Amador. "They participated fully in the luring of the people and the holding them for ransom and the final murders themselves. It was as brutal and as personal as a murder, as you can see." 

Attorneys for both Beritan and Valencia said they plan to appeal.

In a separate trial, Nancy Mendoza Moreno, was convicted of luring Gonzalez-Tostado to the home in Chula Vista in June 2007, where he was held for eight days before being rescued.

Four other alleged members of Los Palillos -- Edgar Frausto Lopez, Jorge Salvador Moreno, Jorge Rojas Lopez and Juan Estrada -- Gonzalez, are scheduled to stand trial later. They face the death penalty if convicted.

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