A 17-year-old boy was rescued Friday, Sept. 22, after the three abductors who claimed the teen’s father stole from them were tracked to their hideout in Santa Barbara County.
Fidel Jes Patino Jaimes, 22, Jair Tomás Ramos Domnguez, 26, and Ezequiel Felix López, 27, of Santa Maria, were charged Friday night with kidnapping, a felony with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, according to the US Department of Justice.
The defendants were scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles for the first time on Monday.
According to the DOJ, no ransom was paid.
According to a sworn affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, the men were involved in a traffic collision with the boy in Highland around 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 18. They forced him into their Jeep Grand Cherokee after he exited the car. The boy’s mother received a phone call that appeared to be from Mexico that afternoon.
The caller demanded that $500,000 be delivered to an address in Nogales, Mexico that was not specified.
A video was then sent to the mother’s cellphone using a different Mexican phone number. The victim was shown in the back seat of the Jeep reading from a script, claiming that the kidnapping was his father’s fault because of something that happened in Yonkers, New York.
“You know what you stole,” the boy’s mother was told in the video.
The affidavit did not specify what was allegedly stolen.
For the next few days, the mother received phone calls demanding payment from Mexican phone numbers. After the mother informed the kidnappers that she couldn’t pay the higher sums, the amount was reduced to $100,000.
Law enforcement tracked the Jeep’s route before and after the kidnapping using license plate readers and cell phone pings. According to the tracking, the Jeep entered the United States from Mexico on September 17 at the San Luis Port of Entry in Arizona and arrived in Santa Maria the next day.
The kidnappers were apprehended at the Motel 6 on East Main Street in Santa Maria, Santa Barbara County. The victim was lying on the floor in a room corner.
The FBI and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department are still looking into the incident.