SANTA ANA (AP) – A man who claims to be a former Tijuana police officer has been indicted on charges of plotting to kidnap the child of a wealthy Westminster family.
Cesar Ariel Zapata-Landeros told an informant he planned to kidnap the child of the family he had done security work for in the past, according to the grand jury indictment unsealed last Wednesday.
Zapata is accused of telling the informant he would run the mother’s vehicle off the road while she was driving two children to school. The documents didn’t name the family.
Zapata planned to demand a $300,000 ransom then threaten to cut off two of the child’s fingers and send them to the family if they refused to pay, according to the indictment.
Zapata was denied bond and remained in federal custody. A message left with federal public defender Elizabeth Macias, who represents Zapata, was not immediately returned.
Federal prosecutors said Zapata rented a storage garage where he claimed he would keep the child. He told the informant he had been involved in other kidnappings.
Prosecutors said the kidnapping had been planned for mid-March.
FBI officials and Westminster police arrested Zapata on March 16 near the family’s home.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said he could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted.