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Man suspected of kidnapping 3-year-old in San Bernardino County arrested in Mexico

January 14, 2011 |  2:17 pm

A man suspected of kidnapping a 3-year-old boy from his home in San Bernardino County and fleeing with him to Mexico has been arrested by Guadalajara authorities, FBI officials said Friday.

Israel Ledesma-Moreno, 29, was taken into custody Thursday after law enforcement officials issued a warrant for his arrest and tracked him to the area where he had been living, said Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles.

Ledesma-Moreno, originally from Guadalajara, faces state charges for kidnapping Briant Rodriguez and six counts of home invasion robbery, according to the 2009 complaint filed by the San Bernardino District Attorney’s office.

He and an accomplice were later federally charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution when they left California jurisdiction.

Liberato Cardenas-Vega, Moreno’s co-defendant, was found slain last year in Sonora, Mexico, where he was shot several times, Eimiller said.

The San Bernardino County  District Attorney’s office could not immediately disclose a motive.

Briant was kidnapped May 3, 2009, after the two men allegedly ransacked his San Bernardino area home, tied up his family and took him away at gunpoint. Officials believe they also stole some cash and two cellphones from the home.

The boy’s kidnapping prompted a nationwide manhunt, and he was found about two weeks later roaming the streets alone in Mexicali, Mexico.

“This capture should serve as a warning to those contemplating escape that the border does not divide enforcement of the law,” Steven Martinez, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office, said in a statement.

Ledesma-Moreno will remain in custody in Mexico City during extradition hearings. He is an illegal immigrant and has been deported from the U.S. at least once before, Eimiller said.

-- Nardine Saad