PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero announced that Jason Rivera, 37, of Queens, NY, was convicted today at trial of kidnapping and extortion charges arising from his involvement with a violent gang, known as “Born To Kill” (a/k/a “BTK”), who paid the defendant money to collect a substantial drug debt from three drug dealers. Two of the three victim dealers, who were brothers, were murdered; the third managed to escape drowning in the Schuylkill River and whose rescue made the case national news.
In the summer of 2014, Rivera and two associates were recruited by members of the BTK gang to forcibly collect money from three marijuana dealers who had failed to pay a substantial drug debt. The co-conspirators, including Rivera, were paid several thousand dollars each using the money they took from the victims. Tam Le, a member of BTK, lured the victims to his home in southwest Philadelphia, where Rivera and the other two co-conspirators assaulted the victims and restrained them with duct tape and zip ties. They then kidnapped and transported the three victims to the Schuylkill River in the back of a van, weighed down their bodies, stabbed them, and dumped all three into the river. Two victims died in the river while the third managed to crawl out of the river and flag down a passing motorist on Kelly Drive for assistance.
In addition to this case, five defendants were federally indicted in connection with this crime and have all pleaded guilty to similar charges. Tam Le was found guilty of murder by a Philadelphia County jury and sentenced to death.
“After the initial investigation and arrests were made in this case which resulted in state charges for two individuals involved with these murders and attempted murder, the trail on the other individuals who helped them went nearly cold,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. “But thanks to the persistent efforts and dogged determination of the FBI and other law enforcement partners, our Office was able to charge these remaining individuals, get them off the streets, and bring them to justice for their crimes.”
“What Rivera and his co-conspirators did to their victims was particularly heinous – so much so that, nearly a decade later, the circumstances of these murders and attempted murder still stand out,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Agents and analysts on FBI Philadelphia’s Organized Crime Task Force put years of hard work into the investigation that led to today’s verdict and seen many of the other perpetrators held accountable. We will continue to work to bring to justice Trung Lu, who has been charged in connection with these crimes but remains at large, likely in Vietnam. The FBI is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading directly to Lu’s arrest.”
The case was investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert Livermore.