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Drug cartel kidnapping in South Carolina

(L to R) Juan Manuel Fuentes-Morales, Luis Castro-Villeda and Ruben Ceja-Rangel
(L to R) Juan Manuel Fuentes-Morales, Luis Castro-Villeda and Ruben Ceja-RangelSource: FBI

On July 9, a 23-year-old man was kidnapped in the area of St. Matthews, South Carolina, by three men, who like the victim, work for a Mexican drug cartel operation, based in North Carolina, according to the FBI.

The unidentified man was apparently on his way to work when he was abducted. His family found his truck and called 911.

That same evening, the victim's fiance received a phone call from one of the kidnappers, Juan Manuel Fuentes-Morales, 26, who claimed to be holding the man in Mexico, and would soon contact her with ransom instructions.

Between July 10 and 15, the abductors placed another 13 calls to the victim's family, requesting ransom amounts "varying between $100,000 and $400,000." However, FBI agents were listening to the phone calls at this point, and traced the calls to addresses in both Roseboro and Garland, North Carolina.

Around 5:00 a.m., on the 15th, FBI agents executed a search warrant at a residence on NC Highway 210, in Roseboro, and found the victim chained and blindfolded. It was also at that location where the alleged kidnappers Luis Castro-Villeda, 22, and Ruben Ceja-Rangel, 57, were taken into custody.

As it turns out, the victim, along with his father work for a cartel and recently delivered 200 pounds of marijuana to an as yet, unidentified or unknown buyer. That buyer failed to pay the approximate price of $200,000.

During their calls, the kidnappers repeatedly referred to the return of the "200," in addition to the demanded ransom money.

Fuentes-Morales, Castro-Villeda and Ceja-Rangel will be charged with kidnapping, and more charges are likely to follow. They are all currently being held at the Wake County Detention Center without bond, and are expected to be extradited to South Carolina after a hearing scheduled for next week in U.S. District Court in Raleigh.

Read the FBI affidavit...

Though far removed from the border, in recent years, such kidnappings have become a fact of life in the Carolinas, as the cartels have taken advantage of the 'sanctuary policies' enacted by every major city in North Carolina, which shield illegal aliens from deportation.