Three people arrested in connection with a kidnapping-for-ransom case that began in San Bernardino County and ended in Santa Maria last week will be held without bond and remain in federal custody as the case makes its through the system.
Fidel Jesús Patino Jaimes, 22, Jair Tomás Ramos Domínguez, 26, and Ezequiel Felix López, 27, all of whom told law enforcement they were from Santa Maria, made their first appearance in federal court in Riverside on Monday.
Law enforcement officers, including FBI agents, arrested the trio during an operation Sept. 22 at Motel 6 on East Main Street.
On Sept. 18, the defendants allegedly caused a traffic accident in which the victim – a 17-year-old boy – crashed into their silver-colored Jeep Grand Cherokee in San Bernardino County, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
When the boy exited his vehicle, the defendants allegedly forced him into their Jeep.
Hours later, the victim’s mother received a telephone call from a Mexican phone number with a demand for $500,000 to be delivered to an unspecified location in Nogales, Mexico.
A short time later, the victim’s mother’s cellphone received a WhatsApp video from a different Mexican telephone number.
The video showed the victim in the backseat of the Jeep reading from a script that the abduction was his father’s fault. The boy referred to an incident that occurred in New York before reading, “You know what you stole.”
In the following days, the victim’s mother received multiple phone calls from different Mexican telephone numbers in which the speaker demanded money and threatened to cut off parts of the victim’s body if payment wasn’t made.
They also reduced the ransom demand to $100,000, which was not paid.
Law enforcement ultimately tracked the defendants down to a motel in Santa Maria, in part by identifying the vehicle used during the kidnapping in a Facebook Marketplace posting and by reviewing Ring door camera footage of the kidnapping, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
On Monday afternoon, the three defendants also were ordered to return to federal court on Oct. 10 for a preliminary hearing and another appearance on Oct. 17