HIGHLAND, CA – Three individuals are facing potential life imprisonment following accusations of kidnapping a 17-year-old male. The U.S. Department of Justice has reported that the trio demanded a half-million-dollar ransom. When the ransom was not paid within a few days, they threatened to mutilate the teenager.
The terrifying incident began on September 18 when the three suspects reportedly orchestrated a car crash with the teenager in Highland. Following the collision, they allegedly abducted the teenager and forced him into their vehicle. The suspects have been identified as Fidel Jesús Patino Jaimes, 22, Jair Tomás Ramos Domínguez, 26, and Ezequiel Felix López, 27, all claiming to be from Santa Maria.
Later that day, the teenager’s mother received a ransom call from a Mexican phone number. The caller demanded $500,000 to be delivered to an undisclosed location in Nogales, Mexico. Shortly after, she received a video of her son in the backseat of a Jeep Grand Cherokee, reading a scripted message that implicated his father’s actions in New York as the reason for his abduction. The kidnappers used devil emojis to obscure the windows in the video.
After several days without payment, the kidnappers threatened to harm the teenager physically. They later reduced the ransom demand to $100,000. The FBI traced the suspects to a Motel 6 in Santa Maria. They used door camera footage to identify the vehicle involved in the initial crash, which matched a vehicle that was listed for sale on Facebook Marketplace.
On September 22, law enforcement raided the motel room where the suspects were staying. They found the three men, one of whom was armed, and the teenager, who was lying on the floor in the corner of the room. The three suspects have been charged with kidnapping, a crime that results in a maximum sentence of life in prison, according to the DOJ.