FBI: 3 cartel members accused of kidnapping SC man
by WNCN Staff
From left to right: Juan Manuel Fuentes-Morales, Ruben Ceja-Rangel and Luis Castro Villeda.
The FBI says a 23-year-old man was kidnapped and held by chains in a Roseboro home.
ROSEBORO, N.C. -
Three men affiliated with a Mexican drug cartel are accused of taking a South Carolina man and holding him for ransom in a dispute over $200,000, according to court documents released Wednesday.
The FBI learned through interviews with the 23-year-old victim and his father that they were involved with a Mexican drug trafficking organization and were delivering cocaine, marijuana and money to North Carolina and South Carolina.
The FBI said the victim was being held responsible for $200,000 in payments for marijuana. The victim's father told the FBI the victim had "fronted" a customer the marijuana and never received payment. The FBI is still investigating the truth of that claim.
The victim was kidnapped July 9 in his neighborhood in St. Matthews, South Carolina. The FBI said someone called his fiancée the next day to say he had been taken.
The FBI said demands were sent to the victim's family within hours of his disappearance and continued over a period of several days.
The FBI began to track the calls and on Tuesday morning went to a home on NC Highway 210 South, south of Roseboro, where they found the victim blindfolded and being held in chains. Agents arrested Ruben Ceja-Rangel and Luis Castro Villeda, who were both with the victim.
FBI agent Dave Thomas said the kidnappers posed as police officers when they abducted the man in South Carolina. The victim told the FBI he had been abducted when Ceja-Rangel pointed a gun at him.
Agents also arrested Juan Manuel Fuentes-Morales on Tuesday morning. They believe he coordinated the kidnapping communications with men in Mexico who made the ransom phone calls.
The FBI said Fuentes-Morales, Ceja-Rangel and Villeda appeared in federal court in Raleigh on Wednesday on a charge of conspiracy to kidnap. Court records did not list attorneys for the suspects.