Mexican drug traffickers accused of kidnapping of a South Carolina man

CNN NEWS/WRAL
Friday, July 18, 2014 - 12:28pm

Three men with ties to a Mexican cartel are accused of kidnapping a South Carolina man and holding him for ransom, in a dispute over a large marijuana debt. Authorities say they posted as police officers and abducted the 23 year-old victim July 9th in South Carolina. He was discovered alive Tuesday in North Carolina, Bruce Mildwurf reports.

The eight page criminal complaint outlines a case involving numerous "hostage takers", a Mexican trafficking organization and a kidnapping victim who, according to court documents worked for that drug organization, delivering cocaine and marijuana to customers in the Carolinas.

David Thomas, FBI Special Agent in Charge, "They abducted him to get payment for those drugs or money. Anywhere from 100 to 400 thousand dollars for his release."

We spoke by phone to David Thomas, the FBI Special Agent in charge in Columbia, South Carolina, "In my 25 years with the FBI, it's one of the most complex kidnapping investigations I've been involved in."

Documents indicate the victim was responsible for a $200,000 dollar loss.

It's not clear, according to the paperwork, whether a customer did not pay for a load of marijuana or whether the victim himself ripped off the cartel.

David Thomas, FBI Special Agent in Charge, "The hostage demands were coming in from Mexico. Automatically you've got a huge issue when you have another country involved. There were telephone calls coming from multiple numbers, multiple people."

The FBI says 26 year-old Juan Manuel Fuentes was the contact between the hostage takers in the U.S. and the drug leaders in Mexico/

Fuentes was arrested at a house in Bladen County.

The victim was found 10 minutes away at this house in Cumberland County, David Thomas, "He was chained, blindfolded at the residence. There were two people at the residence."

22 year-old Luis Castro and 57 year-old Ruben Ceja were also arrested.

All three suspects are charged with conspiracy to kidnap, abduct, carry out and hold a person for ransom.

The suspects were arraigned in federal court Wednesday and will likely face extradition to South Carolina, investigators say they expect more arrests.

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