In a strange true-life story that seems ripped from TV crime drama (rather than the other way around), a New York City man was kidnapped and held for ransom for over a month, before the NYPD rescued him this week. Pedro Portugal was grabbed off the street in broad daylight on April 18, and held hostage in a Queens warehouse (pictured above) while a group of men attempted to extract a $3 million ransom from his family in Ecuador.
Police in both countries (with the help of the State Department) tracked down the kidnappers, while his family tried to negotiate. They followed a group of potential criminals who had recently traveled to and from Ecuador to a rented warehouse space and set-up a stakeout. Then on Monday night, six New York police officers entered the building by posing as building inspectors. When they knocked the door, the jig was up, and Portugal was saved.
Police say Portugal was beaten and abused throughout the ordeal, threatened with stabbings and amputations, and at one point he lost several teeth and had his hand burned with acid. Why he was selected for ransoming is still hard to figure out, since the victim owns an accounting business in Queens, and several other business back in Ecuador, but is not "exceedingly wealthy," according to authorities.
Three men have been arrested and charged with the kidnapping, but three others may have been involved and not been found. Despite the rough treatment, the kidnappers did display one bit of kindness to Portugal (that only adds to the weirdness of the whole story.) On his birthday, they bought him a cake.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.