Three men are facing life sentences after they allegedly kidnapped a 17-year-old boy.
According to the United States Department of Justice, the three men demanded a ransom of $500,000, and when it went unpaid for several days, they threatened to start cutting off body parts from the teenager.
“Few things can be as terrorizing to a parent as having your child kidnapped and held for ransom under threat of physical harm,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Together with the FBI and our local law enforcement partners, we have acted swiftly to rescue the victim and bring the abductors to justice. I commend the agents and officers for their heroic efforts to free the victim and prevent a devastating tragedy from occurring.”
The horrifying ordeal started on Sept. 18. when the three men intentionally crashed into the teenager’s car while in Highland, according to prosecutors. The Department of Justice added that the suspects grabbed the victim and forced him into their vehicle after the deliberate crash.
Investigators identified the three men as Fidel Jesús Patino Jaimes, 22, Jair Tomás Ramos Domínguez, 26, and Ezequiel Felix López, 27. Prosecutors said the three suspects told law enforcement they were from Santa Maria.
Later that day, the teen’s mother received a call from a Mexican phone number. The caller demanded she deliver $500,000 to an unspecified location in Nogales, Mexico. Shortly after the phone call, she received a video showing her son in the backseat of a Jeep Grand Cherokee.
He began to read a scripted message, claiming that his father’s actions in New York caused the kidnapping. According to the federal affidavit, the kidnappers forced the teen to say his “father knew what he stole.”
The ransomers used devil emojis to block the windows.
After the ransom went unpaid for several days, the suspects threatened to cut off the kid’s body parts. Later, they reduced the ransom to $100,000.
With the help of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Maria Police Department, the FBI tracked the suspects down to a Motel 6 in Santa Maria. According to the affidavit, law enforcement used door camera video to identify the video used in the crash and cross-checked it with a vehicle being sold on Facebook Marketplace.
On Sept. 22, investigators raided the room the group was staying in. In the motel room, law enforcement found the three men, one of whom was armed with a handgun. Investigators found the teenager lying on the floor in the corner.
The three men were charged with kidnapping which carries a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison, according to the DOJ.