Three members of a Mexican drug cartel kidnapped a man from South Carolina and held him for ransom for more than a week, authorities said Wednesday.
The cartel members, posing as police officers, pulled over the man as he was on his way to work, about 30 miles outside of Columbia. They then blindfolded and bound him before taking him to a house in North Carolina, holding him for ransom. The FBI said the dispute was because the man owed the cartel $200,000 in marijuana.
The man’s family began receiving ransom demands within hours after his abduction. The cartel called his fiancee demanding $400,000. The FBI traced phone calls of the cartel members and raided the house, finding the man bound in chains and being guarded by two men. He was rescued unharmed and the FBI also arrested three cartel members.
According to a complaint filed in federal court, the man was involved in selling cocaine and marijuana in parts of North and South Carolina. The cartel gave the man 200 pounds of marijuana several months ago, worth about $200,000. However, after giving the marijuana to another dealer, he wasn’t able to pay the cartel back. The FBI has not been able to confirm the truth of this statement.
No charges are being filed against the man right now, 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.
The cartel members appeared in a Raleigh federal court on Wednesday, and are being held without bail. Details have not been released about their cartel affiliation. The prosecution said they will likely face extradition to South Carolina.