A Scottsdale man who took the law into his own hands when smugglers held his friends for ransom may face charges, police said Wednesday.
It all started Sept. 12 with a desperate phone call by 23-year-old Jasmine Calderón-Barrios to her friend, Scottsdale resident Omar Lagos, 28.
Calderón-Barrios and her friend, Liliana Morales, 22, were being held against their will in Phoenix by smugglers who helped them enter the United States. She called the only person in town she knew, and the smugglers demanded Lagos pay $5,000 to release the women.
But Lagos brought a gun instead of cash, according to a 190-page report released recently by Scottsdale police.
The rescue effort led to a high-speed car chase through south Scottsdale, a shootout that left two people with bullet wounds and a dramatic plunge of two vehicles into the Arizona Canal near 64th Street and Indian School Road.
Two months later, Scottsdale officers are deciding whether to recommend charges for Lagos for his role in the incident, said Sgt. Mark Clark.
Police are also still looking for one of the two smugglers who held the women captive and shot them as they fled with Lagos.
The report gave the following details: Lagos and his friend, 19-year-old Scottsdale resident José Felipe Reyes López, met the smugglers around 11:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at an apartment complex at 48th Street and McDowell Road in Phoenix.
"He said he took out his gun and said, ‘Give me the girls,’ " a translator for Lagos told police. "He said, ‘Easy’ or ‘Be calm’ and just ‘Give me the girls.’ "
The smugglers released the women, but when Lagos and López pulled out of the apartment complex and went east on McDowell in López’s Saturn, the coyotes followed in their Ford F-250 truck.
The smugglers began shooting at the Saturn and ramming it near the intersection of 64th Street and McDowell in Scottsdale. There was chaos inside the Saturn, with López speeding to get away as the women screamed and Lagos returning fire with his 9mm handgun.
At some point in the chaos, Calderón-Barrios was shot in the back and Morales was shot in the head. Both have since recovered.
The chase ended when the truck rammed the Saturn just south of Indian School, forcing it to flip and land in the Arizona Canal. The truck also landed in the canal.
Witnesses, who had no idea they were getting a glimpse of the Valley’s violent smuggling world, helped everyone out of the canal.
The smugglers ran away while Lagos, López, Morales and Calderón-Barrios were taken to a hospital. Lagos and López were treated for minor injuries.
Police arrested Marco Antonio Carrasco-Calderón, 28, later that night in a nearby neighborhood. He was charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of human smuggling.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges in October and will stand trial in February.
The smuggling incident became one of the most violent ever in Scottsdale, in part because people dealt with the situation on their own, said Russell Ahr, a spokesman for the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"That is absolutely the most dangerous possible course of action they could have taken," he said. "Smugglers are ruthless, and they don’t hesitate to resort to force."