FBI: Kidnapping of St. Matthews man was part of elaborate crime - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

FBI: Kidnapping of St. Matthews man was part of elaborate crime ring

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The FBI says law enforcement agencies from throughout the United States helped rescue a St. Matthews man who was kidnapped and taken to Cumberland County, NC.

FBI officials say the 23-year-old man was taken earlier this month in St. Matthews by a group of people involved in "an elaborate plot with an international nexus."Law enforcement is not releasing the man's name in an effort to protect him and his family.

"The victim was on his way to work," FBI Special Agent in Charge David Thomas said. "The kidnappers used a ruse as a law enforcement person to pull him over. He was immediately snatched out of his truck and he was abducted."

Thomas says a neighbor came out and saw the truck in their driveway with the door open and the motor still running. At that point, the neighbor contacted the Calhoun County Sheriff's Department to investigate.

"The investigation quickly escalated into a large-scale international effort after the Calhoun County Sheriff's office contacted the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and subsequently the FBI on July 9 and 10 about a missing person's case," said a news release from the FBI.

"Very early into the investigation we immediately started getting calls originating out of Mexico that wanted demands and money demands for the release of our victim," said Thomas. "There were multiple phone calls and demands. It became obvious this was being orchestrated from another country."

The demands were sent to the victim's family within hours of the man's disappearance and continued over a period of several days.

FBI agents in South Carolina and North Carolina were in constant contact with other law enforcement agencies and departments across the country during the investigation and execution of the mission.

The man was eventually rescued at about 5 a.m. Tuesday at a house in Cumberland County, NC.

"He was being held and he was being guarded while he was there to make sure he didn't escape," said Thomas. "He had some injuries, he was immediately treated with medical attention. He was later released to his family."

Luis Castro-Villeda, Ruben Ceja-Renjal and Juan Manuel Fuentes-Morales have been arrested and investigators say they expect to make more arrests.

In addition to the South Carolina and North Carolina law enforcement agencies involved in the case, FBI officials credited investigators at field offices in Atlanta, Houston, Jacksonville, Newark, New Haven, Norfolk, New York, Philadelphia, Washington and LEGAT Mexico City for their help in the search.

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