Wednesday, April 15, 2009
This can't be real, can it?
With thick tape wrapped around his face, his hands bound and layers of shrink-wrap pinning him to a chair, the 17-year-old abductee was threatened with a blowtorch.His mother stood by, pleading on the phone for her ex-husband to pay the kidnappers.For the teenage captive, the ordeal inside a South Florida mobile home was very real. But for his mother, the FBI said Tuesday, it was all an act.According to a federal criminal complaint, the woman, with her boyfriend and his nephew acting as accomplices, staged the abduction last week in a bid to extort $50,000 from her ex-husband, a Southwest Ranches resident.
Here's what the FBI said happened:
At first, authorities thought they had rescued mother and son, but the teen recognized one of his captors as his mother's boyfriend, the complaint states.When investigators questioned Ponce and Boza, they implicated Arriaza, and all three eventually confessed, authorities said. It was not known Tuesday whether they had hired attorneys, and their relatives either could not be reached or declined to comment.Arriaza's ex-husband, identified in county court records as Hernan Pena, 41, also could not be reached. According to the FBI, it all began with the maternal promise of a meal and a fancy cell phone.Arriaza lured her unsuspecting son to a South Florida Wal-Mart on Thursday afternoon by telling him she would buy him an Apple iPhone and dinner, the agency's criminal complaint said.She intentionally left her white Honda Civic unlocked in the parking lot so Ponce could slip into the back seat with a fake gun, the FBI said. When Arriaza and her son returned to the car, Ponce sprang up, taped over the teen's eyes and ordered his mother to drive to his trailer on Southwest 127th Court in Miami-Dade County. Ponce reportedly called Pena and made ransom demands."During one of the calls, Arriaza informed (her ex-husband) that they were burning their son's feet and implored him to pay," according to the complaint.As Arriaza and Ponce watched, Boza held the lighted blow torch close enough to the teen's leg that it singed the hairs, authorities said.Pena quickly contacted the FBI, and investigators somehow tracked the mother and son to the trailer.