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2 brothers sentenced to prison for carjacking

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Two brothers who impersonated police, carjacked a van in southeastern Utah and drove it to Colorado have been sentenced to more than 12 years in federal prison.

Juan Vera-Vargas, 35, a Mexican national, and Arturo Vera-Vargas, 28, of Grand Junction, Colo., were sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball. Juan Vera-Vargas was sentenced to 184 months and his brother to 154 months.

The men originally were charged with kidnapping, armed carjacking and brandishing a firearm during a violent crime. They pleaded guilty on March 21 to the armed carjacking and firearm charges.

San Juan County Sheriff Mike Lacy said that on Feb. 9, a man found walking at 1 a.m. on the main highway north of Monticello reported his van had been stolen at gunpoint by men driving a supposed police vehicle with red and blue lights in the vehicle's grille.

The victim said he was en route from Phoenix to Chicago when the armed men took $500 in cash, the van and the van's nine passengers, leaving the victim stranded on the side of a dirt road.

The brothers were arrested later that morning near Grand Junction.

The van passengers, illegal aliens, were held by immigration officials for deportation, and the driver, Silvano Calvillo-Rodriguez, was charged with transporting illegal aliens. He was sentenced last week to time served and turned over to immigration authorities for deportation.