Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Court documents show an international plot to kidnap a Calhoun County man was the result of a dispute involving a Mexican drug trafficking operation.
Wednesday, the FBI identified the men arrested in the case as 57-year-old Luis Castro-Villeda, 222-year-old Ruben Ceja-Rangel, and 26-year-old Juan Manuel Fuentes-Morales.
Back on July 9th, FBI agents say a 23-year-old St. Matthews man was kidnapped from his truck. His family discovered his empty vehicle, and contacted Calhoun County deputies. News19 first reported the incident Tuesday.
An affidavit filed in federal court reveals new details of what happened, including the motivation of the kidnappers.
According to federal agents, the victim and his father both worked for a Mexican drug trafficking operating in North Carolina. Several months ago, investigators say the men delivered 200 pounds of marijuana to an unidentified customer. The victim fronted the drugs, expecting the payment for the drug (approximately $200,000) at a later date, according to the affidavit.
The buyer,.though, took the drugs but never paid for them. The drug traffickers held the two men responsible for the botched sale, investigators say, and demanded that the two men pay for the lost marijuana.
On the morning of July 9th, the victim was supposed to pick up his co-worker on his way to his job, but never arrived. The victim's fiance called his father, and eventually they discovered his empty truck.
That night, the victim's fiance got a phone call from one of the hostage takers who the FBI says was calling from Mexico. The man told her the victim wasn't hurt, and that she'd get another phone call a day later. The caller also reportedly told the woman that he wanted to speak to the father the next time.
Investigators determined that the caller in Mexico was talking to Fuentes-Morales, who was getting instructions from the leadership of the drug traffickers on what demands to make.
Over the next five days, the hostage takers made 13 more calls, talking to the father each time. By that point, FBI agents were listening in on the conversations. At various times, the affidavit states the men asked for between $100,000 and $400,000. The callers also asked for the missing drugs, according to agents.
FBI agents say they intercepted multiple phone calls between the hostages takers and the drug traffickers back in Mexico, and they were able to trace the calls to Cumberland County, North Carolina.
When agents rescued the victim, they say they found him chained and blindfolded in the home.
Hours later, FBI agents say the family began receiving demands for money from the kidnappers. Calhoun County contacted the State Law Enforcement Division, who in turn alerted the FBI.
The FBI says more arrests are expected in this case.