3 Face Federal Charges in Bizarre South Florida Kidnapping Plot

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
October 18, 2023US News
3 Face Federal Charges in Bizarre South Florida Kidnapping Plot
Jeffry Arista. (Broward Sheriff's Office via AP)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—Two brothers and another man are facing federal charges following a kidnapping that took some bizarre twists, including an attempted waterboarding when they tried to make the victim help them lure the intended target, federal officials said Tuesday.

The suspects kidnapped the man at gunpoint outside his apartment in Plantation, Florida, on Oct. 13, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court. They tossed his cellphone out of the car as they drove to a home, where they took him inside.

Eventually, they learned they had the wrong person, mistaking him for his coworker, who was the intended target. He told police the men threatened him, put an electric drill to his skin and pointed a firearm at him, before dousing him with water in what prosecutors said was a simulated waterboarding. The victim told them he thought he was going to drown.

The men began brainstorming how the victim could help lure the coworker to them, authorities said. They provided him with a cellphone and were able to access his iCloud account to find the coworker’s phone number, and call him, authorities said.

When they learned that man was still at a business in Pompano Beach, Florida, they drove the victim there and asked him to get the coworker to come outside, the complaint said.

Instead, at 2:08 a.m. on Oct. 14, the man phoned in a bomb threat in an effort to get a rapid police response to the building, the complaint said.

The suspects were arrested by law enforcement and remained jailed Tuesday in Broward County, Florida.

On Monday, Jeffrey Arista, 32, and Jonathan Arista, 29, had their initial appearances in federal court in Miami. The third suspect, 33-year-old Raymond Gomez, has not yet appeared in court.

Lawyers for the Arista brothers did not immediately respond Tuesday to emails seeking comment. No lawyer was listed for Gomez in court records, and a phone number for him was not available.

The three face a maximum life prison sentence if convicted.

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