Three cartel thugs have been charged with kidnapping a South Carolina man and holding him for ransom for nearly a week over a $200,000 marijuana bill.
The man, who has not been identified to protect his safety, was grabbed July 9 as he was driving to work, according to federal court documents.
The cartel members, dressed as cops, pulled him over in St. Matthews, near Columbia, and abducted him.
His truck was left running with its door open.
Along with his father, the man was a drug mule for an unnamed Mexican drug syndicate, delivering cocaine, pot and cash in South Carolina and North Carolina, the documents said.
Shortly after the man was kidnapped, his family began receiving ransom calls.
The calls went on for days, asking as much as $400,000 for his return.
Federal agents were able to trace the calls and raided a North Carolina home where he was found bound and chained.
Juan Manuel Fuentes-Morales, 26, Ruben Ceja-Rangel, 57, and Luis Castro Villeda, 22, appeared in federal court in Raleigh on Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to kidnap.
Their nationalities were not released.
No charges have been filed against the man who was kidnapped and he is not in custody.
“Right now he’s a victim, and we will have to look at that very carefully,” said FBI agent David Thomas, who is in charge of the Columbia, S.C., office.
The man had received a $200,000 shipment of pot from the cartel, delivered it to a dealer, but did not pay the syndicate, the documents said.
The reason for not paying the cartel wasn’t disclosed.
With News Wire Services
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