(GoRealNewsNow.com) – Federal agents rescued a 17-year-old boy abducted by a Mexican gang in California, whose members demanded a $500,000 ransom.
Three men were arrested for the kidnapping, which featured threats of cutting off body parts made to the boy’s mother, the United States Justice Department announced.
Each of the three suspects – 22-year-old Fidel Jesus Patino Jaimes, 26-year-old Jair Tomas Ramos Dominguez, and 27-year-old Ezequiel Felix Lopez – has been charged with kidnapping and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
They were arraigned Monday afternoon in the United States District Court in Riverside, California.
The three men abducted their victim in San Bernardino County and held him in Santa Maria, a city of 100,000 in Santa Barbara County.
The defendants committed the kidnapping on September 18 after provoking a traffic accident that caused the boy to get out of his vehicle. They forced the minor inside their silver-colored Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Later the same day, the suspects called the boy’s mother from a Mexican phone number and demanded that she deliver $500,000 to a location in Nogales, Mexico. They also told her the kidnapping was the fault of the boy’s father.
The kidnappers also used another Mexican phone number to send the mother a WhatsApp video showing her son reading a note alleging that he had been kidnapped because of an incident in New York.
“You know what you stole,” the script read.
In the next few days, the mother got numerous calls from various Mexican phone numbers, threatening to cut off parts of her child’s body. At the same time, the kidnappers reduced the ransom to $100,000.
US law enforcement managed to identify the gangsters’ vehicle through a Facebook Marketplace posting and Ring door camera footage. Federal agents tracked them down to a motel in Santa Maria.
The three kidnappers and their victim were found in one of the motel’s rooms, with one of the gangsters tossing down a gun. The kidnapped boy had been left to lie on the floor in one corner of the room.
“Few things can be as terrorizing to a parent as having your child kidnapped and held for ransom under threat of physical harm… I commend the agents and officers for their heroic efforts to free the victim,” declared United States Attorney Martin Estrada.