2 People Sentenced for Carjacking, Kidnapping an FBI Employee in South Dakota

By Steve Neavling

Two people involved in the carjacking and kidnapping of an FBI employee in South Dakota in May 2022 have received lengthy prison sentences.  

Deyvin Morales, 29, of Guatemala, was sentenced on Friday to 47 years in prison. His co-defendant, Karla Lopez-Gutierrez, 29, of Colorado, was sentenced to 35 years in prison. 

On April 12, Juan Francisco Alvarez-Sorto, 25, of El Salvador, was sentenced to 35 years in prison

“The victim in this case was faithfully performing his duties when he found himself at the center of an absolute nightmare — fighting for survival in the back of his own car after these callous defendants carjacked, kidnapped, and held the victim at gunpoint for more than thirty minutes,” U.S. Attorney Alison Ramsdell said in a statement. “That men and women in law enforcement must face such profound risks to their lives while working to secure community safety is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. These lengthy sentences reflect those principles.”

A jury convicted Alvarez-Sorto and Deyvin Morales, of Guatemala, in January of kidnapping, carjacking, brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, unlawful possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and unlawful reentry after deportation. 

The two men, along with Karla Alejandra Lopez-Gutierrez, traveled from Colorado to southwestern South Dakota to distribute meth, fentanyl and heroin when local police tried to pull them over. 

The trio sped away and eluded law enforcement before hiding in a remote area near Red Shirt. After the chase, the group hid out and decided to “carjack the next vehicle to come along,” prosecutors said in a news release.

That vehicle was an FBI-issued car driven by Curt Lauinger, a victim specialist for the bureau. 

Lauinger pulled over along the side of the street when the car driven by the defendants pulled out behind him. He thought he was being pulled over by police. 

But instead, Alvarez was at the side of his car, pointing a rifle at him. 

The trio hopped into the FBI vehicle while Lauinger sat in the front seat. While at a gas station, the victim ran out of the car and into the store. 

The trio drove to Rapid City, where they abandoned the FBI vehicle. 

They were later arrested at a house in Colorado, where law enforcement found firearms, including the rifle used in the carjacking. 

Lopez-Gutierrez took a plea deal.

“These sentences reaffirm the FBI’s steadfast commitment to protecting our personnel from acts of violence and intimidation,” Alvin M. Winston Sr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office, said. “We extend our gratitude to the USAO-SD and law enforcement partners for their unwavering dedication. Justice has been served, and we continue to stand united against any attempt to endanger our workforce.”

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