In November 2020, Hurricanes Eta and Iota took everything from David Sanabria and his young daughter Ximena in their native Honduras. With the crops they relied on for survival destroyed, the 32-year-old worked out a plan with his brother Denis, who lived in Nashville. As Noticias Telemundo Investiga reporter Juan Cooper writes in a lengthy piece published at NBC News, Denis scrounged together the $8,000 needed to pay a coyote to smuggle them through Mexico and to the Texas border, where David's plan was to seek asylum for him and his 4-year-old. But after a month-long trek that started in January, David and Ximena were turned over to armed kidnappers who contacted Denis and demanded a $7,500 payment in exchange for their lives.
Cooper recounts the lengths Denis went to in order to assemble the cash, which he ultimately managed to do. But what David said transpired in the interim was terrifying and gruesome. He said he and Ximena were among roughly 50 kidnapped migrants, and that those whose families missed the ransom deadline were dismembered with a machete, their remains cooked and fed to the migrants. "The only thing I could do was cover my daughter’s eyes and ears so that she would not know what was happening, nor would she have those memories for her whole life," he said. Fearing what would happen to Ximena if he died, he asked the kidnappers to kill her, too, should they decide to kill him. He managed to escape that fate thanks to his brother. (The full story shares what happened to David and Ximena after they were picked up by US Border Patrol.)