Pedro Portugal, New York City Man, Rescued After Being Kidnapped In Broad Daylight And Held Hostage For $3 Million Ransom One Month

roosevelt heights stop
The Roosevelt Avenue subway stop in Jackson Heights, Queens. Jackson Heights is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the nation, and not usually associated with crime. Creative Commons

Pedro Portugal, an accountant from New York City's Queens borough, has been rescued from the Long Island City warehouse in which he was being held by three alleged kidnappers who had snatched him off the street a month ago. Authorities have charged Christian Acuna, 35, Dennis Alves, 32, and Eduardo Moncayo, 28, with kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment. Portugal alleges that his kidnappers demanded $3 million from his relatives in Ecuador in exchange for his safe return. 

Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement about the crime that after Portugal had been "forcibly abducted off the streets of Queens County in broad daylight", he had been "beaten and held against his will for more than a month", during which he "suffered physical injuries and has been deeply traumatized by the ordeal." 

Police told the New York Times that Portugal, a 52-year-old married father of six, owns an accounting business on Roosevelt Avenue in Queens' Jackson Heights neighborhood, and that his family in Ecuador owns land and several businesses, but is not "exceedingly wealthy."


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On April 18, one of the kidnappers posed as a police officer, flashing a fake NYPD badge, after which another kidnapper grabbed Portugal, threw him into a van and pulled a mask over his face, authorities say. He was then driven to a warehouse in Long Island City, where he was bound to a chair by his arms and legs. Over the next month, he was routinely abused which included being beaten and kicked, burned with acid, and subjected to the threat of having his fingers cut off or even being killed. 

On May 20, NYPD detectives raided the warehouse after an investigation which involved officials from Ecuador and the U.S. State Department. Portugal's mother had contacted Ecuadorian police after the victim called her to ask for the ransom money on behalf of the kidnappers. The New York Times says that the NYPD had zeroed in on the Long Island City warehouse after tracking people with criminal records who had traveled between the U.S. and Ecuador around the time of the kidnapping. The search turned up men who rented space in there. When six police officers disguised as building inspectors went up and knocked on the door, the person guarding Portugal fled and was later captured. 

The three suspects were being held on bail Wednesday night, and Moncayo is expected to be arraigned this morning.

Portugal is still in the hospital, recovering from the ordeal, according to ABC News.


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David Iaconangelo is a Brooklyn-based writer and translator.  Formerly editor of ZafraLit, a blog of new short fiction from Cuba.  He has lived in and reported from various Latin American countries.