40 years Jury sentences Peche on kidnapping conviction

The jury that found a Laredo man guilty of two first-degree felonies in the 406th District Court sentenced him Friday
to 40 years in prison.
Damaso Peche Jr., was convicted on three counts of aggravated kidnapping and engaging in organized criminal activity
Thursday. Webb County prosecutors proved his involvement in the assault and kidnapping of three undocumented
women he was supposed to transport to cities north of Laredo last fall.
Robert Julian “El Gato” Rios and Raul “El Gordo” Ramos are also charged in the crimes.
Peche is also charged with five counts of aggravated sexual assault after he allegedly raped one of the women, who was 18 at the time of the crimes. The jury could not agree on those charges, however, resulting in a mistrial.
Jose Salvador Tellez II, Peche’s lawyer, asked the jury to remember that Peche was not convicted of the sexual assault
charges when they considered his sentence. Tellez added that Peche’s role in the crimes was minor compared with that of Rios and Ramos.

“Keep an open mind,” he requested.
Uriel Druker, who with Norberto Cardenas prosecuted the case, told the jury Peche was offered leniency in the past
after being convicted of various crimes, but never took the opportunity.

“When he decided to commit that crime and terrorize these three women he reached that point of no return,” Druker

explained.

Prosecutors presented a federal and county probation officer. They testified that Peche violated conditions of his

release following previous offenses. Peche failed to report to probation officers, was associated with people involved

in illegal activity and tested positive for illegal substances, they reported.

During three days of testimony, Peche remained emotionless as he sat next to his attorney. Peche’s accusers sobbed

while testifying to the rapes that occurred at his house.

Friday morning, however, Peche cried. His sister spoke about how Peche, then 12, saw his mother brutally murdered.

She said his life of crime and drug abuse began shortly thereafter.

She said her relationship with Peche disintegrated after his behavior and drug abuse worsened, but said that her

relationship with her brother improved following his arrest.

She added that he was scared of going to jail for a crime he did not commit.

The sentencing followed graphic testimony. Two of the victims testified to being tied up and gagged as Peche’s friends

raped them. Both women also said they were burned and threatened with death if they could not produce more cash for the kidnappers.
Prosecutors acknowledged that a majority of the testimony concerning the rape and brutal torture came at the hands of
Ramos and Rios. But they said Peche was just as guilty. They pointed to his knowledge and said Peche let them

continue, often guarding the rooms where Rios and Ramos performed their acts.

Rios is scheduled for trial September 10.