MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Four men have been indicted on charges alleging they kidnapped and tortured two men they suspected of stealing drugs and money from a St. Paul "stash house," federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
The kidnappers released their victims, but not before nearly severing one victim's finger while interrogating him in the house, court papers allege.
State prosecutors say the house was controlled by a Mexican drug cartel, though court documents don't say which one and federal prosecutors declined to comment.
All four were indicted on one count of conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. One was also indicted on one count of using a gun during a drug crime.
"The allegations in the indictment are a frightening reminder of the violent capabilities of drug traffickers," U.S. Attorney Andy Luger said in a statement.
The indictment unsealed Tuesday and other court papers say the four men suspected the victims stole or knew who stole about 30 pounds of methamphetamine and $200,000 from the stash house last month. It names Jesus Ramirez, 31, of Los Angeles; Jonatan Delgado Alvarez, 22, of Los Angeles; Juan Ricardo Elenes Villavazo, also known as Chapo, 32, of St. Paul; and Antonio Navarro, also known as Tony Sanchez, 19, of St. Paul.
The defendants released the victims after determining they didn't know what happened to the drugs, the documents say.
Navarro and Alvarez were arrested outside the house April 15. Ramirez was arrested after a police chase in the Los Angeles area April 17. Villavazo remains at large, the U.S. attorney's office said.
The indictment alleges Navarro and Villavazo ran the stash house, and that Ramirez and Alvarez flew from Los Angeles on April 14 to try to recover the stolen meth or enough cash to cover it. It alleges they kidnapped two men from behind a Minneapolis residence and beat them, held a gun to their heads, and threatened to kill them and their families.
Court papers allege Villavazo tried to cut off one victim's left pinky with scissors, causing him to pass out, while the others held him down. The documents say the victim later underwent surgery but that it was unclear if he would regain the ability to move his finger.
State kidnapping and other charges filed last month against Navarro, Ramirez and Delgado are on hold pending the outcome of the federal case, said Dennis Gerhardstein, spokesman for the Ramsey County attorney's office.
Attorney Anthony Deutz represented Ramirez on the state charges. He declined to comment specifically on the federal charges but added "I think he got caught up in this and that he was not involved." It wasn't immediately clear if Delgado or Navarro had lawyers.
All four defendants face a potential maximum of life in prison if convicted on the drug count, while Ramirez also faces a potential a minimum of seven years for allegedly using a gun to kidnap and threaten the victims, according to the U.S. attorney's office.