5 in custody in kidnapping-for-ransom case

November 8, 2010 3:15:33 PM PST
Five men suspected of kidnapping a 35-year-old man in San Jose on Thursday night and holding him for $1 million ransom remain in custody today awaiting formal charges from the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office.

San Jose resident Wilber Gomez, 26; Hayward resident Libni Sanchez, 23; and Los Angeles resident Jose Villalobos, 28, are each being held on $500,000 bail.

San Jose residents Efrain Martinez, 34, and Jose Valencia, 33, are being held without bail, according to county jail records.

The victim, who owns a local food business, had left his home at about 9 p.m. Thursday to run some errands.

According to police, the victim often checked on his businesses during evening hours, but when he failed to return home later, his family tried to call his cell phone. The phone, however, went straight to voicemail.

At about 1:15 a.m. Friday, the victim's family received a call from someone who demanded $1 million ransom by 6 a.m. in exchange for the victim's safe return, police said.

The victim's family waited until about 7:15 a.m. Friday to call police and tell them what was happening.

Police officers from multiple units were assigned to the case, and by Friday evening they had determined that the victim was being held captive inside a house in the 1100 block of Fargate Circle.

When officers went to the home, they saw a vehicle pulling away and pulled it over. They arrested the driver and one passenger shortly before 8:15 p.m., p.m.

Other officers continued to watch the neighborhood, and eventually saw two more men leave the house. They were also arrested without incident, police said.

Police said the suspects confirmed that the victim was being held captive in the house and had been bound with duct tape, police said. They also said a fifth man, who was armed, had remained inside the house to watch the victim, according to police.

A short time later, police watching the house saw a man jump out of a second-story window.

When officers got to him, they determined that he was the victim. Once they had moved him to safety, they went into the house and arrested the fifth suspect shortly after 10:10 p.m.

The victim was taken to a hospital to be treated for injuries suffered in the fall and inflicted by his captors, including wounds from a stun gun. None of his injuries were considered life-threatening, police said.

The suspects were booked into Santa Clara County Jail on suspicion of kidnapping for ransom and robbery.

Prosecutors have until Wednesday morning to review the case and decide whether to charge the five suspects, according to the district attorney's office.

Investigators are still looking into the circumstances of the kidnapping. During the investigation, they found illegal drugs at the victim's house, police said.


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