Posted: Nov 26, 2012 6:31 PM
Updated: Nov 26, 2012 9:20 PM
BROWNSVILLE - Three kidnappings in Cameron County could be tied to Mexican drug cartels, police said.
A man, a mother and her daughter were held against their will in a motel room. The three are illegal immigrants who were separated from a group traveling north.
The woman told police she and her daughter had been smuggled into the United States six weeks ago. She said they lost contact with their smugglers and began wandering the streets of Brownsville.
The woman told police a female approached her and asked her if she needed a place to stay.
Brownsville police said the woman, her daughter and a man were taken to room 162 of the Rose Garden Inn where they were held against their will. The kidnapping victims were told they would have to pay $5,000 to be released.
"She stated she didn't have that money, so they said they were going to keep her and her daughter. ... She would have to work off the amount. (They) said if she tried to escape they were going to harm her and her daughter," Brownsville Police Spokesman Billy Killebrew said.
D'Lea Carrol, a resident at the motel, said she was surprised by the incident.
"Very scary, because I actually feel safe here. Management is always here and it just really surprises me," Carrol said.
Carrol said she never saw anything out of the ordinary.
"Just people sitting outside, talking to each other," she said. "I know most of my neighbors and they are very nice people."
Killebrew said the victims were constantly harassed.
"The victims were threatened. They were told that these people that kidnapped them were involved with the cartel. They (said they) knew where they lived in Mexico ... if they said anything their families would be hurt," Killebrew said.
Killebrew said one of the victims took a chance and called a family member when the captors were busy. The victim's brother-in-law called police and led them to the motel. He said the victim's quick thinking may have saved their lives.
The Department of Homeland Security joined the investigation.
Three suspects have been charged in the case.
Luciano Romero, Patricia Garcia and San Juana Garcia were charged with aggravated kidnapping, smuggling and traffic of a child with intent of forced labor.
Their bonds were set at $520,000 each.