NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Three men were charged Wednesday with kidnapping an Ecuadorean national in Queens, and holding him in a warehouse for a month as they demanded $3 million ransom.
Christian Acuna of Corona, Dennis Alves of East Elmhurst, and Eduardo Moncayo of Lyndhurst, N.J., were all set for arraignment on charges of kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced Wednesday.
Police on Wednesday were still looking for three others involved in the plot.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, there was no comment Wednesday night in Woodside as family members gathered at the home of Pedro Portugal, 52, who was freed by police after 32 days in captivity.
Prosecutors said the men came up to Portugal, an Ecuadorean national and tax accountant who lives in Woodside, Queens. Moncayo allegedly approached him at his office on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, flashed a fake NYPD badge, and ordered him into a sport-utility vehicle.
The abduction was caught on video on the sidewalk.
Inside the vehicle, Moncayo and two others who have not been apprehended beat Portugal up and put a mask over his face, prosecutors said. One of the men then lifted Portugal’s shirt and put a knife to his abdomen, ordering him not to move or else he would be stabbed, prosecutors said.
With Portugal’s leg still hanging out a rear door, the men drove off.
At first, no one knew what happened. Dave Orduna owns the bakery next door.
“We just know he disappeared. The wife and daughter went looking for him,” Orduna said. “He disappeared.”
In fact, the men had dropped Portugal off in an unknown location, later revealed to be an old garment factory at 38-09 43rd Ave. in Long Island City, Queens.
At the warehouse, the men forced Portugal into a chair and tied him up. A group of men then began punching and kicking Portugal, saying that they wanted money and that they knew he had property in the United States, prosecutors said.
One of the men ordered Portugal to call his mother and request the ransom, which would be handed over to a person named “Tito,” prosecutors said.
District Attorney Brown said there was a virtual torture chamber in use inside the warehouse.
“In many respects, this thing was like a James Bond movie.” Brown said. “He was tied to a chair, duct taped, ropes around his hands, hood over his head. He was brutalized, times at knifepoint; threatened with death.”
The suspects allegedly held Portugal captive from April 18 until just this past Monday. During that period of time, masked men burned Portugal’s hand with acid, threatened to cut off his fingers and kill him, and beat him up – knocking out several of his teeth and causing other injuries.
Police were alerted to the ransom demands, and traveled to Ecuador to work the case. They raided the warehouse Monday evening.
During the raid, an NYPD Major Case Squad detective found Portugal walking out of a small room in a makeshift apartment on the third floor of the warehouse, with his hands bound with cloth and duct tape. The detective also allegedly saw Acuna running outside, and arrested him at 39th Street and Skillman Avenue.
In statements made to police, Acuna said he knew Alves – who introduced him to the others – and who hired him to watch Portugal at the warehouse for $800 per week. Acuna said he and Alves watched Portugal by day, and Moncayo watched him at night, prosecutors said.
Alves told police he had met another person who agreed to kidnap Portugal and hold him at the warehouse until the group received the ransom money, and that the other person told Alves he would be paid $5,000 to watch Portugal, prosecutors said.
Alves allegedly told police, “I didn’t treat him bad. I told him it was just business.”
Moncayo admitted to police that he pretended to be an officer as he kidnapped Portugal, prosecutors said.
The men all face terms of 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Portugal remained hospitalized Wednesday night with very serious injuries
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