SIERRA VISTA — Three Mexican men were in custody Thursday in connection to an incident in which a woman was tied up with rope and locked in a bathroom a day earlier in Pearce.
The men, who were captured by Border Patrol agents Thursday afternoon after a manhunt by several agencies, were identified by the Sheriff’s Office as:
• Alejandrino Lara-Silva, 19, of Puebla Puebla, Mexico
• Natalio Valenzuela-Valdez, 41, Alamos, Mexico
• Yercho Vedoch-Arrayo, 18, of Las Manchez, Sinaloa, Mexico.
“Not to minimize the work done by everyone involved, but not enough can be said about the work and commitment by the Border Patrol agents who captured these crooks,” said Sheriff Larry Dever in a news release Thursday night. “They dug in early, put their noses to the ground and refused to quit.
“The bad guys almost surely would have gotten away and possibly committed other crimes without this tremendous effort,” he added.
Cochise County sheriff’s deputies were called to the 8800 block of Goforth Lane about 6 p.m. on Wednesday, where a 58-year-old woman reported she was held against her will in her guesthouse on her rural property in the Pearce area.
The woman told deputies she had gone to the guesthouse on her property about 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, then heard a noise inside. She said someone grabbed her arm and pulled her inside the guesthouse when she reached into the doorway to turn on a light.
Three Hispanic men were inside the home, one of them armed with a rifle, she told authorities.
The victim said she was told in English with a heavy Spanish accent to “shut up” as she was tied with a rope at the wrists and ankles before being locked in the bathroom of the guesthouse, Cochise County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Carol Capas said.
The woman told deputies she did not hear the suspects leave the home, but she untied the rope about 30 minutes later and ran to the neighbors’ property for help.The men fled on foot.
U.S. Border Patrol agents, including tactical personnel and air support, helped deputies search for the men on Wednesday evening after the woman made her call to the Sheriff’s Office. Suspicious footprints were located in the area south of Highway 181, but the men were not found Wednesday night.
The search resumed Thursday morning. About lunchtime, some three miles east of Highway 91 and three miles north of the unincorporated Davis settlement, the search grew much warmer, Capas said.
By Thursday afternoon, the Border Patrol had taken the three men into custody without incident, Capas said.
The woman was uninjured and told investigators one of the men, who appeared to be the youngest of the three, appeared to be in his late teens, Capas said.
County detectives were still interviewing the men Thursday night. The Sheriff’s Office did not say what the men allegedly took or why.
The Border Patrol and Sheriff’s Office continued to investigate on Thursday.