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Car Dealers’ Kidnapping Foiled When Alleged Abductors Go After Ransom

April 13, 1992

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ The failed kidnapping of a car dealer for $125,000 ransom led to the arrests of eight people including two teen-age boys, authorities said.

The eight were arrested for investigation of kidnapping for ransom and were in juvenile custody, Police Lt. Robert Helton and FBI Special Agent Gary Morley said Monday in a joint statement.

Eugenio Valencia Duarte, 28, of Santa Ana, was in good condition when he was found handcuffed before dawn Saturday in a house at Lake Arrowhead, a community northeast of Los Angeles high in the San Bernardino Mountains.

Two armed men in blue uniforms had approached Duarte at noon Wednesday at his Santa Ana dealership, Easy Car. They told Duarte he was under arrest, handcuffed him and spirited him away without explanation, authorities said. Employees at the dealership believed the abductors were police.

Justino Duarte, the victim’s brother, tried in vain to find his brother at the Santa Ana police station and then Justino Duarte received a telephone call demanding $100,000 ransom.

The ransom demand rose Friday to $125,000 and came with a threat to kill Duarte if it wasn’t paid, investigators said.

A meeting with the abductors was set for a convenience store in Compton, south of Los Angeles. A police officer posed as a relative of the victim, backed up by 40 police and FBI agents.

When suspects arrived in two cars, five men were arrested without incident.

The arrests led investigators to Duarte and the arrests of the juveniles and another man.

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