Pizza Actually Saved This Immigrant's Life

With his baking skills Tony Torres got some leniency from the Zetas gang

June 14, 2013— -- When Central American immigrants travel across Mexico on their way to the U.S. they are fully aware that they can be captured by one of Mexico's feared drug cartels.

Cartels like the Zetas demand ransom payments from immigrants and kill those whose families can't pay. But Tony Torres managed to get some leniency from the Zetas after they captured him in a bus in Northern Mexico.

This Salvadoran immigrant's life was spared because he told the local Zetas commander that he could make some very tasty pizzas.

"The [Zetas] boss told me that it was his son's birthday and asked me to bake a pizza," Torres, who is now back in El Salvador, told Univision News.

The pizza was apparently so good that Torres was asked to become the cook for the group that was holding him and 14 other immigrants for ransom. Eventually, the local Zetas boss became friendly with Torres, gave him more freedom to move around, and reduced his ransom fee.

"He said I had to pay $450 cause I couldn't go without paying anything," Torres recalled.

Torres spent three months in captivity, and returned to El Salvador after the Zetas let him go. He now runs a small pizza shop in the seaside town of La Libertad.

But there is a sad side to this story, too. Torres has a daughter in the U.S., whom he's never seen, because her mother moved north while she was pregnant.

Torres says that he hopes to see his daughter one day. But his experience with the Zetas dissuades him from once again trying to make the long, and clearly dangerous, trek.