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  1. #1
    Senior Member AngryTX's Avatar
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    TX: More Mexican Crime Comes to Houston (Sanctuary City) ... 87398.html

    Jan. 25, 2008, 11:57PM
    Kidnapping scams, common in Mexico, find way to Houston
    Police say man was tricked into paying ransom for 'pregnant' woman

    Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

    A chilling voice mail came over Delfino Ramirez Diaz's cell phone: His pregnant and sobbing girlfriend told Ramirez she'd been snatched by kidnappers and only a ransom of $10,000 would stop them from inducing labor and selling their twins on the black market.

    "Help me, my love! Help me!" Maria Isabel Puente said in Spanish. "They said they are going to give me an herb to remove my babies," she continued. "I love you so much. Whatever happens, I love you so much."

    The incident, which police said played out quietly in Houston last week, turned out to be a scam.

    Kidnapping scams, such as people staging their own abductions, are common in Mexico, the birthplace of both Ramirez and Puente. But authorities said they now appear to be popping up in Houston, with three in the past few months.

    Ramirez, 43, who owns a home remodeling business, kept a recording of one of the calls. He was tricked out of at least $10,000.

    Police say Puente, 38, had conned Ramirez into believing she was pregnant. Officers arrested her on a felony theft charge.

    "The cleverness of the whole thing, you have to give her credit," said Houston police Detective C.P. Abbondandolo, one of several officers who put in long hours on the case. "Perhaps she can get an Academy Award in addition to a jail sentence."

    During an interview at a Harris County jail facility, Puente grinned in disbelief when asked if she tricked Ramirez with a staged kidnapping.

    "I don't know a thing about it," she said, and she added that she was having a hard time hearing through the thick, protective glass at the jail.

    Targeting immigrants
    Immigrants are falling victim to the old crime with a new lease on life, and police are spending numerous hours scrambling to save a supposed victim, said Lt. Murray Smith of the homicide division, which handles approximately six legitimate kidnappings a year.

    "If it is happening, people need to not pay money, and to call the police," said Smith, who added that despite the extra time and money a fake kidnap case can require, police treat every incident as potentially real.

    "You can imagine somebody calling the police department saying, 'My nine-month pregnant girlfriend is kidnapped,' " he said. "We have to treat that serious as anybody would expect us to do."

    Retired FBI agent Raul Salinas, who taught anti-kidnapping courses to Mexican police and is now mayor of the border city of Laredo, said kidnapping scams are so common in Mexico that there is a term for them — autosecuestro — which basically translates as "self-kidnapping."

    "I handled a couple in Mexico City — they would claim they were kidnapped and they were just trying to extort their families," Salinas said.

    University of Houston sociologist Nestor Rodriguez said he hadn't yet heard of the kidnapping scams hitting Houston immigrant communities, but he wouldn't rule out the possibility.

    "The border doesn't stop this," he said. "People who have success doing this are going to try it anywhere they find vulnerable people willing to believe a story."

    "He (Ramirez) did what any decent person would do when someone they care about is in distress," Rodriguez said. "He wanted to help, but unfortunately, he was the victim here."

    Speaking outside his northwest Houston home earlier this week, Ramirez said he was more disappointed and hurt than angry.

    "She broke my heart — they were very painful lies," he said. "When I heard her crying, I wanted to do all I could."

    Woman nabbed
    Ramirez said he received about six calls from Puente. The demands started at $30,000 and went down to $10,000 before Ramirez deposited money into a bank account in her name, he said. She was to withdraw it to buy her freedom.

    He said she told him an elaborate story about being blindfolded and driven about five hours, presumably to a ranch in the Rio Grande Valley.

    But police, who would not share their investigative techniques, traced her to an apartment in the 2200 block of Wirt, where she was with another man. After about 10 minutes of knocking, Puente answered the door and told more than a dozen officers gathered outside that she was fine and didn't know anything about a kidnapping.

    "When you turn the lights on, this is a clever, conniving woman who came up with a way to get a bunch of money," Abbondandolo, the detective, said.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2008
    Are we supposed to be surprised? The illegals are a walking crime wave. Everything they do is in violation of some law, laws that would put you and I as American Citizens behind bars.
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  3. #3
    Senior Member crazybird's Avatar
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    Mar 2006
    Joliet, Il
    You couldn't pay me to be a kid these days. It's not enough with disease and broken hearts and unwanted you have you're beloved conning you out of all your money too!!!!!
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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