A federal grand jury has indicted four men who allegedly kidnapped and beat two teenagers they thought had stolen drugs and money from a stash house in St. Paul.
The Pioneer Press reports the U.S. Attorney's office maintains the four were part of a large-scale methamphetamine trafficking operation. Prosecutors say the stash house was controlled by a Mexican drug cartel.
According to various reports, the indictment alleges the following:
– On April 12 $200,000 and about 30 pounds of methamphetamines were stolen from the house.
– Two days later the four men kidnapped a 16-year-old and a 19-year-old at gunpoint.
– The teens were taken to the stash house, tied up, beaten, and their families threatened.
– One of the victims passed out after scissors were used to cut his finger, which was nearly severed.
– The cartel members eventually decided the teens did not know about the theft and released them.
Two of the men indicted are from Los Angeles, the other two from St. Paul. The Associated Press reports two of them were arrested outside the stash house, one was arrested in Los Angeles after leading police on a high-speed chase, and one of the St. Paul men – 32-year-old Juan Ricardo Elenes Villavazo, also known as Chapo – remains at large.
KARE 11 says it's Villavazo who is accused of using the scissors in the basement of the stash house.
The Pioneer Press notes that the house is on a quiet street in St. Paul's West Seventh neighborhood.
Apart from Villavazo, the three other men – Jesus Ramirez, 31, of Los Angeles; Jonatan Delgado Alvarez, 22, of Los Angeles; and Antonio Navarro, also known as Tony Sanchez, 19, of St. Paul – were charged in Ramsey County District Court last month with kidnapping, robbery, and assault.
A spokesman for the Ramsey County Attorney's office tells the AP the state case will be put on hold while the federal case plays out.
The AP says court documents do not specify which of the Mexican drug cartels controlled the St. Paul house, but the Star Tribune reports it was the Sinaloa syndicate.
The Star Tribune reports federal authorities say they were startled to learn that instead of using its own muscle, the cartel took the unusual step of hiring enforcers from another gang – the MS-13 organization – to respond to the theft in St. Paul. The newspaper calls the MS-13s one of the most feared transnational gangs in the U.S. and Latin America.