Authorities in Florida have brought multiple charges against three men who allegedly kidnapped a victim they mistook for their intended target before going ahead to waterboard and threaten his life. Per NBC 6 South Florida, the suspects had initially intended to abduct the victim’s coworker.
The federal charges brought against suspects Jeffry Arista, 32, Jonathan Arista, 29, and Raymond Gomez include kidnapping, conspiracy to kidnap, aggravated assault, and battery. Each suspect faces up to life in prison if found guilty. Jeffry and Jonathan are brothers.
A criminal complaint stated that the victim was abducted after he came out of his Fort Lauderdale residence on the morning of October 13. The victim was approached by one of the suspects as the former was walking towards his vehicle. The suspect, who was wearing a police uniform and a full face mask, brandished a weapon and forced the victim to enter a white Dodge Charger with dark tinted windows and a “police” light, the complaint stated, adding that a second kidnapper was driving the vehicle.
The victim was subsequently forced to wear a black head covering in an effort to block his vision. The victim’s phone was also thrown out of the car when the kidnappers drove out of the area.
The two kidnappers transported the victim to a residence where a third kidnapper interacted with him. The suspects later realized they had kidnapped the wrong person and “further confirmed this when they removed the Victim’s wallet from his pocket and checked his identification”, the complaint stated.
The kidnappers then asked the victim why his coworker had previously used his car and asked the whereabouts of the money. The complaint stated that the money in question had to do with what the “coworker owed the kidnappers.”
“The kidnappers threatened the Victim by putting an electric drill to his skin and pointing firearms towards his head,” the complaint added. “At one point, the kidnappers forced the Victim into a bathroom inside the Residence where they covered his face with four or five black masks and poured buckets of water on him, effectively waterboarding him. During this time, the Victim thought he was going to drown.”
The complaint stated that the suspects then started talking about how they could make the victim lure the coworker to them. They subsequently gave the victim a new cell phone and managed to get the coworker’s phone number after accessing the victim’s iCloud. The suspects then forced the victim to get in touch with the coworker to try and make arrangements with him, the complaint stated.
Gomez and Jeffry Arista later took the victim to his apartment in a Porsche SUV Gomez was driving. When they arrived, Jeffry Arista, who was armed, entered the victim’s residence with him. Jeffry Arista is said to have later gotten in touch with Gomez and Jonathan Arista and instructed them to come back to the apartment with drugs, per the complaint.
The coworker is said to have texted the victim while the three kidnappers were in the victim’s apartment. The coworker in the text told the victim he was at “the business” – which NBC 6 South Florida said was a strip club.
“The kidnappers decided to take the Victim to the Business so that they could lure the Coworker out. The kidnappers and the Victim got back into the Porsche and drove towards the Business,” the complaint stated. “Upon arriving, the kidnappers and the Victim located the Coworker’s vehicle in the parking lot. The Victim overheard two of the kidnappers discuss placing a tracker on the Coworker’s vehicle. The Victim subsequently observed one of the kidnappers exit the Porsche with the intent to install a tracker.”
The kidnappers then ordered the victim to enter the establishment and find the coworker. The victim after entering notified the coworker about what had happened and got in touch with law enforcement.
Following their arrest, Gomez told investigators that an unknown man had instructed him and the Arista brothers to kidnap the intended target because he owed money.