A 17-year-old boy who authorities said was kidnapped in Highland and held for ransom was rescued Friday, Sept. 22, after the three abductors who said the teen’s father stole from them were tracked to their hideout in Santa Barbara County.
Fidel Jesús Patino Jaimes, 22, Jair Tomás Ramos Domínguez, 26, and Ezequiel Felix López, 27, who told law enforcement they were from Santa Maria, were charged Friday night with kidnapping, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, the U.S. Department of Justice said.
The defendants were scheduled to make their first court appearance on Monday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
No ransom was paid, the DOJ said.
According to a sworn affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, at about 8:30 a.m. on Sept. 18, the men caused a traffic collision with the boy in Highland. When he exited the car, they forced him into their Jeep Grand Cherokee. That afternoon, the boy’s mother received a telephone call that appeared to come from Mexico.
The caller demanded that $500,000 be delivered to an unspecified location in Nogales, Mexico.
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A different Mexican telephone number was then used to send a video to the mother’s cellphone. The video showed the victim in the back seat of the Jeep and reading from a script, saying that the abduction was his father’s fault for something that happened in Yonkers, New York.
“You know what you stole,” the video admonished the boy’s mother.
The affidavit did not describe what supposedly was stolen.
For the next several days, the mother received phone calls from the Mexican telephone numbers, demanding payment. The amount was reduced to $100,000 after the mother told the kidnappers that she couldn’t pay the higher totals.
Law enforcement used license plate readers and cell phone pings to track the Jeep’s route both before and after the kidnapping. The tracking showed that the Jeep entered the U.S. from Mexico at the San Luis Port of Entry in Arizona on Sept. 17 and was in Santa Maria the next day.
Authorities were able to locate the kidnappers at the Motel 6 on East Main Street in Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County. The victim was lying on the floor in a corner of the room.
The FBI and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department continue to investigate the case.