Drug Cartel Fears Hit Streets of San Jose

Recent kidnap and ransom sparks fear in San Jose

By Damian Trujillo
|  Thursday, Nov 18, 2010  |  Updated 6:36 AM PDT
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A recent kidnap and ransom case could point to a new level of crime on <a title=San Jose streets." />

NBC Bay Area News

A recent kidnap and ransom case could point to a new level of crime on San Jose streets.

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The kidnapping-for-ransom of a San Jose man two weeks ago is stirring up fears about the potential of deadly drug cartels terrorizing the streets of San Jose.

It's happening in border towns, as well as big cities like L.A.. and Phoenix.

Police say Phoenix averages about one kidnapping every 3 days, and drug cartels are often suspected.

San Jose police won't release the identity of its victim, only to say the 5 kidnappers demanded $1 million from his family.

It took 15 hours and 125 police officers, but the SJPD rescued the victim without firing a shot.

San Jose police say the M.O. in the kidnap/ransom case is the same as other cities where cartels are operating.

Suspects impersonate police officers while making a stop, kidnap the victim, then demand huge sums of money.

About a local cartel involvement, Acting Police Chief Chris Moore said, "There is that possibility, and that's one of the things we're trying to avoid since it's this violence we've been fortunate not to see," Moore told reporters Wednesday.

"We're not naive to the fact that there might be some influence," said Captain Gary Kirby, who oversees the robbery unit. "We know they train people, teach them degrees of sophistication."

NBC Bay Area has had several previous reports on the cartels already operating huge marijuana farms in the hills above the Silicon Valley. They cook meth and distribute large amounts of heroin in the county's rural areas. Now, the fear is they may be on the city streets.

Police organized the news conference two weeks after the incident in hopes other potential victims or witnesses to call them.

They fear this may not be the first kidnapping-for-ransom in San Jose, where the victim's family obeyed the captors and paid the money without dialing 9-1-1.

"Cooperate with the police," said Kirby. "So we can learn the network that may be laid here that we're not quite aware of yet."

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