Phoenix man sentenced to 35 years in federal prison for role in deadly Lexington kidnappings

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Posted at 4:35 PM, Sep 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-27 16:36:50-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Phoenix man was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison after he was convicted for his role in the deadly kidnappings of two people in 2017.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky, 32-year-old Rosario Diaz Barrara was convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and interstate transportation of stolen automobiles.

In September 2017, two people, identified in court records as J.O. and M.A.T.O. were killed after they were kidnapped. Their bodies were discovered in the trunk of a Volkswagen Jetta on Blue Sky Parkway in Lexington. Officials say that location was an automotive repair business owned by J.O.

Two vehicles belonging to J.O. were stolen during that time and transported to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Attorney's Office says evidence presented at trial revealed that 54-year-old Ramon Camacho Zepeda, of Lexington, and Diaz Barraza were distributing kilogram quantities of cocaine and heroin in Lexington and that J.O. had owed them money, based on his involvement in the drug trafficking. A pathologist with the Kentucky Medical Examiner's Office testified that J.O.'s cause of death was attributed to "chop wounds" to the head and asphyxiation. The second victim, M.A.T.O., died from asphyxiation.

In April 2022, Diaz Barraza was convicted for his role in the deadly kidnappings at trial. Two additional defendants, Camacho Zepeda and 27-year-old John Carlos Betancourt, of Penuelas, Puerto Rico, were also convicted for their roles in the kidnappings and are awaiting sentencing.

Two other defendants, 39-year-old Jose Felix Tlatenchi, of Wilkes-Barre, Penn., and 31-year-old Jean Michael Serrano-Jimenez, of Hanover Township, Penn., previously entered guilty pleas relating to their involvement. Serrano-Jimenez pled guilty as charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, while Tlatenchi pled guilty as an accessory after the fact to the kidnappings. Both are also currently awaiting sentencing.

Under federal law, Diaz Barrara must serve 85% of his prison sentence. When he's released from prison, he will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for five years.