The FBI broke a three-week silence about a June 8 kidnapping in Chula Vista, near San Diego, by distributing a wanted poster of a suspect this week, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. The poster identifying Juan Laureano-Arvizu, 34, of Mexico confirms information on the suspected motiva-tion for several recent kidnappings, and reveals details about the June 16 arrest of five suspects. It says Laureano-Arvizu is believed to be part of a gang known as Los Palillos (Spanish for toothpicks). The kidnapping victims “are often members of the Arellano Félix drug trafficking organization who have access to large sums of money, and do not contact law enforcement,” the poster says.
The release of the poster follows the publication Saturday of a story in the Union-Tribune on the kidnappings. The FBI said Friday that it had investigated 39 kidnappings for ransom since late 2001 in San Diego and Imperial counties. The rate of kidnappings had increased substantially since fiscal 2004, when six kidnappings were reported; 12 kidnappings occurred in fiscal 2006. When the five suspects were arrested in the new cae, in addition to seizing eight firearms and several tasers, the FBI found body armor emblazoned with the word ‘POLICE,’ law enforcement badges, police jackets, vehicle police lights, and handcuffs.