WEST VALLEY CITY — Three Arizona residents were charged Thursday with kidnapping a teenage boy this week and holding him hostage while demanding a ransom from his mother for his safe return.
At one point, the trio was told to kill the boy, but his kidnappers opted to hold out for the money, charging documents state.
Juan Carlos Moreno Trinidad, 41, Issa Al-Sadoon, 26, and Nadia Avalos, 31, all of Phoenix, were arrested Tuesday by West Valley police. They were each changed in 3rd District Court Thursday with aggravated kidnapping, a first-degree felony; and theft by extortion, a second-degree felony.
A 17-year-old was "forcefully" taken and held hostage in a hotel room where his kidnappers demanded money for his return, "all while indicating (through the victim’s phone calls) that they would kill or do bodily harm to the victim if their demands were not met," according to Salt Lake County Jail reports.
When police later rescued the boy, he told them "that he had been taken at gunpoint, and he believed if he did not go with them his mother would likely be hurt. The victim gave information that he was told to make the phone calls to his mother for the ransom demands," the reports state.
The boy's mother was told "she needed to pay $5,000 if she wanted to see him alive," according to charging documents. The trio called from two different numbers and sent her a video message showing her son in the back of a truck, investigators say.
West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku said the boy was taken from the area of 3500 S. Redwood. She said the Utah County Major Crimes Task Force was working on an unrelated investigation when it learned about the kidnapping. That's when both West Valley police and the FBI became involved in the case.
With the help of surveillance video from businesses in the area of the kidnapping, detectives were able to track down the teenager and the kidnappers, Vainuku said.
One of the defendant's phones was pinged to a park-and-ride lot off I-15 near 7200 South, the charges state. Police found the abandoned truck there. Zip ties and duct tape were also found in the vehicle. Surveillance video shows the three take the teen into another car, according to the charges.
Another phone ping led investigators to Motel 6, 315 W. 3300 South, where they surrounded the hotel and arrested one of the men when he left the room to go to his car, Vainuku said. Inside the vehicle investigators found a gun and a "large knife."
Contact was then made with the remaining two people inside the room who were talked into surrendering, according to Vainuku.
She said from the time her department was notified until the teen was recovered was about eight hours.
Investigators believe the alleged kidnapping was drug-related and that the teen was not chosen at random.
The three drove to Utah from Arizona on Aug. 10 to look for the boy's mother to collect a drug debt, according to the charges. Three days later, they went to the store where the woman worked and spotted her son. They had the boy take his mother's truck and kidnapped him at gunpoint, according to court records.
Two of the suspects called their "boss" who told them to kill the boy and take the truck, the charges state. Trinadad wanted to kill the teen but Al-Sadoon wanted the money, so they kidnapped him instead, investigators wrote.
The three allegedly told the boy that if he came up with $2,000 they would let him go. When he told them he didn't have the money, the men told the boy "that he needed to hide" from his mother for a few days "so that they could leave the state" and get his mother to pay the ransom, according to the charges.
Details about the possible connection between the three suspects and the boy and his family were not revealed. According to the reports, at least one of the alleged captors "admitted to being addicted to heroin and said he was going through withdrawals."
Inside the hotel room, "a second loaded firearm, several phones and a small amount of a crystal-like substance that field-tested positive for methamphetamine were located," the reports state.