Three Defendants Arrested on Federal Complaint Alleging They Kidnapped Inland Empire Teenager Held for Ransom in Santa Maria

The U.S. Department of Justice seal is displayed on a podium following a news conference (courtesy)

By the Department of Justice

Three men were arrested [Friday] and have been charged in a federal criminal complaint alleging they kidnapped a 17-year-old boy in San Bernardino County and held him for ransom in Santa Maria.

Fidel Jesús Patino Jaimes, 22; Jair Tomás Ramos Domínguez, 26, of Santa Maria; and Ezequiel Felix López, 27, all of whom told law enforcement they were from Santa Maria, were arrested Friday morning and were charged this evening with kidnapping, a felony that carries a statutory maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

The defendants are expected to make their initial appearances on Monday afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

“Few things can be as terrorizing to a parent as having your child kidnapped and held for ransom under threat of physical harm,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Together with the FBI and our local law enforcement partners, we have acted swiftly to rescue the victim and bring the abductors to justice. I commend the agents and officers for their heroic efforts to free the victim and prevent a devastating tragedy from occurring.”

According to an affidavit filed with the complaint, on the morning of September 18, the defendants allegedly caused a traffic accident in which the victim – a 17-year-old boy – crashed into their silver-colored Jeep Grand Cherokee. After the collision, the victim exited his vehicle. At that point, the defendants allegedly grabbed the victim and forced him into their vehicle.

On the afternoon of September 18, the victim’s mother received a telephone call from a Mexican phone number. The caller demanded the delivery of $500,000 to an unspecified location in Nogales, Mexico for the victim, and said that the abduction was the fault of the victim’s father.

Shortly thereafter, a different Mexican telephone number was used to send a WhatsApp video to the victim’s mother’s cellphone. The video showed the victim in the backseat of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and reading from a script, saying that the abduction was his father’s fault for an incident that occurred in New York, and saying you know what you stole.

For several days afterward, the victim’s mother received multiple phone calls from different Mexican telephone numbers in which the speaker demanded payment and threatened to cut off body parts of the victim if payment wasn’t made. The ransom demand, which went unpaid, was reduced to $100,000.

Law enforcement ultimately tracked the defendants down to a motel in Santa Maria, in part by identifying the vehicle used during the kidnapping in a Facebook Marketplace posting and by reviewing Ring door camera footage of the kidnapping.

During the execution of a search warrant at one of the motel’s rooms this morning, law enforcement found the three defendants – one of whom tossed a firearm onto the floor – and the victim, who was lying on the floor in a corner of the room, according to the affidavit.

A criminal complaint contains allegations. All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department are investigating this matter. The Santa Maria Police Department provided substantial assistance.

Assistant United States Attorney Sean D. Peterson of the Riverside Branch Office is prosecuting this case.

Search Warrant Served in Santa Maria

By the Santa Maria Police Department

On 09/22/2023 at approximately 0520 hours, the Santa Maria Police Department supported an outside municipal and federal agency in search warrants in the City of Santa Maria.

In contrary to what is being said on social media, no gunshots were fired during the incident.

The specifics regarding the investigation are being withheld at this time to protect the investigation more information will be released at a later time.

No injuries were reported during the search warrant.


Written by Anonymous

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    • COAST – This is terrible and they should be locked up. There, you feel better now?
      Also, as to your racist assumption that this has anything to do with undocumented immigrants…. the border is NOT “open.”
      Again for those in the back: If we have an armed branch of our government patroling the border (that’s the Border Patrol if you are unfamiliar), another branch of the government handling deportation issues (that would be ICE), and a multitude of laws dealing with illegal immigration, a Immigration that are enforced by these governmental entities, then the border is NOT “open.” If you can be arrested for something, that means it’s illegal, ergo, when they arrest undocumented immigrants crossing, it’s because they’re broken the law. Again, proof positive that it is NOT “open.”

    • @ SACJON=Why is it “RACIST” to say that over the last 2.5 years our Southern Border has had over 4 Million crossings of people we have ZERO information on… You are uninformed and naive to think the Biden border policy that was changed his first day in office is not considered an “Open Border” VS how the border was controlled with the prior administration. It’s unfortunate for all of us in our Country that people like you use name-calling to shout down those with differing views- whether you vote blue or red…

    • COAST – it’s not and that’s not what you said. What’s racist is assuming without facts that this involved illegal immigrants, just because of the names of the perps. Also, it’s still not an “open border.” Have you ever been down there? Go check it out and let me know what you see.

    • sacjon
      Eagle Pass, TX Population 29,000 has had up to 3000 migrants a day who cross illegally and live under highway and river overpasses. That is pretty open when you realize there is a big river there that is “the border”
      Democrat Mayor Eric Adams of NYC says “the migrant crisis will destroy NYC”. If the border outside of official ports of entry isn’t open, where are they coming from and why does Mayor Adams (D-NYC) think they constitute a crisis that will destroy NYC?
      But all of this is beside the point of conversation we are having over these 3 hispaniics of unknown nationality who kidnapped a 17 year old in a planned snatch where they rammed his car over a debt they claim the kidnapped 17 year olds father owed back in NY.
      This is very likely a cartel kidnapping. No one kidnaps a random kid and asks for $500,000 via phone numbers in Nogales, MX when they themselves are in Santa Maria CA USA unless they have a network. Why? Because it is probably not random. Cartel members and affiliates in the US tend to be a mix of legal and illegal residents. That isn’t racist, its simple statistical analysis. None of the three men mentioned may be here illegally, or all of them may be, or some mix of them may be one or the other. Cross border cartel business rolls like that and it isn’t racist to consider statistics (somewhere around 20% of cartel affiliated hispanics are here illegally) If I hear there is a man named John Smith, current NBA player, I can say he has a 73% probability of being African-American without being a racist. I am simply citing a statistical fact. I actually would have a better than a 73% probability of being correct because few European and fewer Hispanic NBA players are likely to be named John Smith. Statistics like that are not racist, they are statistics about racial make up of certain groups. We use these type of facts for common sense actions. For example, Mexico is not going to send agents to Finland to do a deep dive into Laplanders who may be involved in this local crime, because it make no sense. 0% probability

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