Three men have been charged in federal court for allegedly kidnapping a 17-year-old boy in San Bernardino County, California, and holding him for ransom in Santa Maria.
Fidel Jesús Patino Jaimes, 22, Jair Tomás Ramos Domínguez, 26, and Ezequiel Felix López, 27, were arrested Friday morning and charged with felony kidnapping.
According to the Department of Justice, the defendants caused a traffic crash on Sept. 18, forcing the teen victim to get out of his vehicle. It was at that moment prosecutors say men grabbed the victim and forced him into their vehicle.
Federal officials say the men later called the victim's mother and demanded $500,000 be delivered to a location in Nogales, Mexico.
Authorities say the defendants also sent a WhatsApp video to the victim's mother which showed the teen sitting in the back of a vehicle, reading a script that claimed the abduction was his father's fault for an incident that occurred in New York.
For several days, the victim's mother reportedly continued to receive phone calls demanding payment. The men reportedly threatened to cut off body parts of the victim if the payment wasn’t made.
Federal officials said they were able to identify the vehicle used in the kidnapping after reviewing video from a Ring doorbell camera. They tracked it to a motel.
Authorities served a search warrant at the motel early Friday morning and reportedly found the three men and the victim, who was lying on the floor in a corner of the room.
The three men were arrested and charged with kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
This story was originally published by Scripps News San Luis Obispo.
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