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Kidnapped El Centro teen back home thanks to Imperial police

December 04, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

What started as an attempt to smuggle drugs across the border turned into a more violent case as a 14-year-old El Centro boy was kidnapped at gunpoint from a relative's home in Mexicali, Imperial police reported Monday.

The boy was later released by his kidnappers and allowed to cross back into the United States thanks to negotiations of Imperial police.

The kidnapping — which happened Saturday night — came in the wake of a drug-smuggling operation that ended in an arrest earlier that day.

According to Imperial police Officer Sean Acuña, Carlos Mancera Perez, 29, of Imperial was arrested Saturday by federal authorities as he reportedly attempted to smuggle 20 pounds of methamphetamine through the downtown Calexico Port of Entry.

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He was booked into the county jail on suspicion of transporting drugs and other drug-related allegations. He remained in custody this morning without bail.

On Saturday night, Mancera's wife contacted police reporting that people had arrived at their Imperial home demanding either the drugs or money.

Acuña said the suspects, reportedly connected to the drug-smuggling operation, suspected Mancera "had burned them."

Acuña added the suspects did not believe Mancera's wife when she said her husband had been arrested earlier in the day.

Some people — possibly the same ones who went to Mancera's home demanding the drugs or money — then went to a home in Mexicali.

Those who live at the Mexicali residence are related to the Manceras and it is thought the people who went there were familiar with the family, Acuña said.

The suspects, he said, torched a vehicle at the residence and then kidnapped the 14-year-old boy at gunpoint, threatening to kill him if the drugs or money were not turned over. The boy, who lives in El Centro, had been visiting relatives at the residence.

When Imperial police arrived at Mancera's home on Aten Road, Sgt. Joe Bielma intercepted a call from the kidnappers, who said they did not believe Mancera had been arrested.

Bielma set up a three-way call between himself, the kidnappers and the county Sheriff's Office to prove to the kidnappers Mancera was in custody.

With that information, the kidnappers released the boy around 2 a.m. Sunday without announcing to anyone they were doing so.

They allowed him to cross on his own back into the United States. The boy managed to cross the border and call his family.

Mancera's wife, who had been taken to another location and was in contact with her family, contacted police to tell them the boy had returned home.

Acuña said when officers arrived at the boy's El Centro home, they found him shaken but unharmed.

No further arrests have been made.

>> Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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