FBI announces 3 arrests following kidnapping, rescue of SC man

rlowe@thestate.comJuly 15, 2014 

— A 23-year-old St. Matthews man, grabbed from his truck as he drove to work on July 9, was rescued a week later from a house in North Carolina where he was being held, the FBI announced Tuesday.

Authorities were notified after a neighbor noticed the unidentified victim’s truck on the side of the road with the door open and the engine running, David Thomas, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge of the Columbia office, said.

By the time the first ransom call came in to the family the next day on July 10, county, state and federal agents were already in place.

The calls demanding an undisclosed amount of money originated in Mexico, Thomas said. Numerous phone calls and negotiations between the Mexico-based kidnappers and what they thought were the victim’s family members – but were actually federal agents – continued until Monday night.

Agents searched five locations in North Carolina and at 5 a.m. Tuesday raided a house in Cumberland County, N.C., where the victim was being held.

The victim, who has not been identified, suffered minor injuries during his ordeal, Thomas said.

Authorities do not know if the victim knew his kidnappers, but he may have been targeted because he did owe someone money, Thomas said.

The victim was pulled over by someone posing as a law enforcement official, Thomas said.

“This was not a random incident, he was targeted,” Thomas said.

The three people arrested are U.S. citizens but they took their instructions from Mexico. Thomas said he did not know whether the people running the kidnapping operation in Mexico were U.S. or Mexican citizens.

More details about the kidnapping and the suspects are expected to be revealed Wednesday morning, when documents are unsealed in federal court in Columbia.

Check back Wednesday for more updates to this story.

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