April 25, 2013
On Wednesday, Jorge Rentas, Alejandro Zambrano, Gema Yadaria Zambrano and Orlando Zambrano were all arraigned in a Newton courtroom. All four have been charged with kidnapping.
The defendants reportedly abducted Alfonso Moreno outside a Lowe’s store in Hickory.
His girlfriend, who asked we not show her face, said Moreno had gone to buy curtains for their home.
About an hour after leaving she started getting phone calls demanding a $200,000 ransom for his safe return.
“Twelve o’clock was what they said was it or they would kill him. This is bad, this is bad. They want us to come through with some money now or we are not going to make it,” she said.
“We believe he was specifically targeted because he had access to money and that he could get money for his release,” said Capt. Reed Baer with Hickory police.
According to a search warrant, police traced the phone calls to a mobile home in southeast Hickory where they made the arrest after finding Moreno restrained. Inside they recovered several guns, rope, and a roll of duct tape. Moreno’s girlfriend has a message for police.
At least three of the suspects are in the country illegally, according to police.
According to the Council for Law and Human Rights (CLDH), an average of 49 kidnappings occurred every day in Mexico in 2011, with a total of 17,889 abductions last year.
However, that figure does not include so-called “express kidnappings,” in which the victim is only held hostage for a short time, usually a few hours. The victim is abducted and forced to withdraw money from an ATM, or their family is asked for ransom money before being released.
The CLDH reports that hundreds of these types of abductions take place in Mexico City on a daily basis.
Such abductions have been taking place in the American southwest for several years…
-In August 2010, an 18-year-old woman was reunited with her family, 19 hours after she was abducted in San Juan, Texas. The victim, whose name was withheld, was walking to a friend’s house when a black van pulled up beside her and three men jumped out and forced her into the vehicle.
According to San Juan Police Chief Juan Gonzalez, the woman was blindfolded and driven back across the border to Reynosa, where she was eventually left in a field.
The assailants quickly began calling her family, demanding ransom in exchange for her release. FBI agents and Hidalgo County sheriff’s deputies negotiated with her abductors.
Realizing that the woman’s family could not pay, they tossed her out of their vehicle.
Fortunately, the girl had a cell phone which the kidnappers did not find.
-In November 2009, a McAllen, Texas man was taken at gunpoint from a Starbucks Coffee store and driven back to Reynosa. The kidnappers demanded $30,000 in ransom from the man’s family. The man was later found bound and beaten.
-In August 2008, Reuters reported on an American businesswoman identified only as “Veronica,” who had been kidnapped a few months earlier. As she was exiting her car in California, two men forced her into the passenger seat at gunpoint, then shoved her teenaged daughter into the back seat and took the pair to Mexico.
The kidnappers drove through the border checkpoint in San Diego, bringing the mother and daughter to Tijuana. The two were held captive for a month until their family paid a ransom of $100,000.
Veronica said of her experience: “We got an automatic green light to go through Mexican customs and then we were blindfolded and taken to a house in Tijuana. They held a pistol to my stomach all the time we were in the car.”
Of course, as illegal immigration becomes a national problem, the violent crimes associated with it have also spread to every city and town across the nation..
Incidentally, it is 1,168 miles from the border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, Mexico to Hickory, North Carolina.