Local News

Kidnapping plot tied to Mexican drug cartel, federal documents allege

Posted July 16
Updated July 17

— A man rescued in Cumberland County in what authorities say was a complex kidnapping plot had been delivering drugs for a Mexican drug cartel and owed it $200,000 for marijuana, according to a federal complaint filed Wednesday.

FBI agents found the unidentified 23-year-old victim chained and blindfolded at a home in Roseboro around 5 a.m. Tuesday, six days after he was kidnapped in St. Matthews, S.C., while he was on his way to work.

The criminal complaint said the victim's fiancée found his truck parked in a neighbor's yard on July 9 and that the keys were in the ignition and the motor running. She received more than a dozen calls over the next several days with ransom demands that ranged between $100,000 and $400,000.

The phone calls, which originated from Mexico, led authorities on a nationwide search for the victim before investigators focused their efforts on a home at 13943 N.C. Highway 210 South, about 160 miles from St. Matthews.

Three men – Juan Manuel Fuentes-Morales, 26, Reuben Ceja-Renjal, 57, and Luis Castro-Villeda, 22 – were also arrested Tuesday and face federal kidnapping charges.

They were arraigned at a federal courthouse in Raleigh Wednesday and will likely face extradition back to South Carolina.

Investigators said they expect more arrests.

The criminal complaint against the suspects said the victim was involved in delivering cocaine, marijuana and money throughout South Carolina and North Carolina. He is currently not in police custody and does not face any criminal charges.

"Right now he's a victim, and we will have to look at that very carefully," David Thomas, FBI special agent in charge in Columbia, S.C., said.

Several months ago, the man received about $200,000 worth of marijuana from the cartel and delivered it to another dealer, but he could not repay the cartel, according to court papers. Investigators are not sure whether he stole the marijuana or was ripped off by the dealer.

Thomas said the victim believed he was being pulled over by police officers when he was abducted at gunpoint. The complaint says the man later told agents that he tried to cut off his restraints with a knife, but a kidnapper discovered his attempt and hit him in the jaw and pointed a gun at him.

Thomas said the man had some injuries but none of them were severe.

43 Comments

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  • jmrado47 Jul 17, 1:15 p.m.

    We have to be real tough on crime and send a strong message that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.

  • Paul M Jul 17, 10:04 a.m.

    Trade them for the Soldier in Mexico ?

  • lroyal10900 Jul 17, 9:48 a.m.

    The reason the victim is not named is that his family is still in danger. The cartel STILL does not have their money!

  • lopo Jul 17, 9:38 a.m.

    Mexico city has one of the highest kidnapping rate in the world. And guess what is coming accross the border, no background check, and no papers. Doesn't take a genius to figure out whats going to happen. remember, President, congress live in gated communities with armed body guards. Doesn't bother them.

  • delilahk2000 Jul 17, 9:33 a.m.

    THANKS TO OUR GOV. FOR LETTING ANYTHING AND ANYONE ONE COME ACROSS OUR BORDERS...THIS IS THE S@UM THAT WE HAVE. THANK YOU WASHINGTON.....WE NEED OUR NATIONAL GUARD AT OUR BORDERS AND NOT LET ANYONE COME ACROSS ANYMORE. YOU DO IT FOR OTHER COUNTRIES,,,,WHY NOT OURS.........WE ARE NO LONGER AMERICA.....WE ARE JUST A DUMPING GROUND FOR THE TRA$SH OF OTHER COUNTRIES......IF THIS IS NOT PROOF ENOUGH........YOU ARE BLIND TO IT ALL...........THE DRUG CARTEL IS TAKING OVER...AND OUR COULD CARE LESS........

  • thomasew52 Jul 17, 8:45 a.m.

    But, lets not profile here! Seems that a lot of drug crime can be tied to, lets say, the country that lies south of the U.S., but we can't mention that anymore for fear of offending some group of people.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" Jul 16, 7:40 p.m.

    This is the kind of junk the border states have had to deal with for years. Now it is moving in... View More

    — Posted by cinnamon16

    -

    We've already had this kind of terror in our own backyards on this coast.

    Around the beginning of 2014, a man was beheaded in Harnett County over a drug deal gone bad with suspected illegals.
    I know because it happened about a mile from my home. Yet not one single word of it was ever broadcast or released on any news station. Why not?
    Cause they don't want to start an uproar and/or panic here like is going on the southwestern states of the US - when an uproar is exactly what should happen, on the streets of DC.
    If they had the problem there that we have in other areas of this country, it would be a more important matter to them than they're acting like it is.
    If one of this kind of person hurt one of the relatives of our legislators in DC, you can be sure that would cause action.
    They and their loved ones are far more important than we and ours are you know, in their minds at least it seems.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" Jul 16, 7:36 p.m.

    Congress. Make illegal=FELONY. Charge Mexico $1000 day per illegal. Done.

    — Posted by aspenstreet1717

    Make the HIRING of undocumented workers a felony and there wouldn't be a problem.

    — Posted by elyhim2

    -

    What has to happen first is require ALL employers, regardless the number of people they employ, to have I-9s on file for each employee, the information of which has been verified as accurate through the Federal E-Verify system.

    That system was set up years ago and works GREAT, yet there's never been any law passed REQUIRING it be used by any employer throughout the country, and I-9s aren't required on those employing 50 or less which is a joke since few farmers and almost zero convenience stores employ that many anyway.

  • elyhim2 Jul 16, 6:19 p.m.

    Congress. Make illegal=FELONY. Charge Mexico $1000 day per illegal. Done.

    — Posted by aspenstreet1717

    Make the HIRING of undocumented workers a felony and there wouldn't be a problem.

  • imback Jul 16, 5:03 p.m.

    So liberals are done blaming Bush, we can now expect to hear blame Reagan? This current admin... View More

    — Posted by malto1968

    What Congress needs to do is get off their lazy behinds an pass some sort of immigration reform!... View More

    — Posted by davidk_at_unc

    And what do you mean by reform? Be specific. What would you fix and how would you handle the next 20 million that want to come here after this magical reform? And how would that prevent this incident? Please enlighten us.

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