DENVER – A man kidnapped from a Lakewood sex store at gunpoint was returned to his family days later after they paid $200,000 in ransom money, and at least three people now face charges in the plot.
The kidnapping happened Aug. 30 at Chrystal’s in Lakewood and was followed by days of negotiations with the victim’s father. Ransom demands started at $500,000, and the kidnappers eventually received $200,000 in cash before local and federal authorities foiled the plan.
Andres Flores-Paredes, 27, was snatched from the adult store by several men wearing bulletproof vests and armed with assault rifles and grenades, among other weapons. The suspects had originally tried to kidnap his brother in a plan that had been in the making for months or even years, according to court documents.
Suspects were acquaintances of family of kidnapped man
Three people have already been arrested in the case and a fourth faces charges but has not been arrested.
One of the men allegedly involved in planning and carrying out the ordeal is still at large. Marco Antonio Cota-Tamaura, 36, “had a major conflict” regarding the horse industry and Flores-Paredes’s father, Andres Flores-Zapata, who runs a ranch near Commerce City.
Two brothers arrested in the plot – Raymundo Maldonado-Salgado, 22, and Jonatan Maldonado-Salgado, 19 – each knew the family as well, according to the documents. A third man, Hernando Aguilar-Banuelos, 30, has also been arrested for his alleged involvement.
After the initial kidnapping, court records say the men drove Flores-Paredes to different stash houses in Weld and Adams counties, where they repeatedly called Flores-Zapata to demand money, lest they kill his son.
Agents found suspects by tracing cell phones, addresses
The day after the kidnapping, Flores-Paredes’s car and phone were dropped back off at the family ranch. The demands continually decreased, but Flores-Zapata eventually agreed with the kidnappers to pay the $200,000 in ransom money, which would be dropped on the side of the road at an exit off I-70 near Bennett.
Meanwhile, authorities were tracing the cell phones being used by the suspects to make demands and communicate amongst themselves. DNA found on zip-ties recovered from the sex shop was traced to Cota Tamaura.
Jonatan Maldonado-Salgado was eventually identified as one of the suspects when his phone number led authorities to his Facebook page. A photo on that page showed him wearing the same hat he wore during the initial kidnapping, which was caught on surveillance cameras.
When the money was first dropped at the I-70 exit on Sept. 2, the suspects could not find it. Angry, they called Flores-Zapata – who was working with FBI agents – and agreed that the money be dropped at the front gate of the family ranch instead.
After picking up the money, an affidavit says the suspects drove to the Adams County home they used to hide Flores-Paredes in order to check the money for bugs or false bills. They then returned Flores-Paredes to his family's ranch around 2 a.m. Sept. 3.
Lakewood Police picked Flores-Paredes up to interview him. He recounted his kidnapping, but was kept hooded and in the two separate places and did not know much else. He told detectives he overheard one of the suspects talked about coming from California “to do this job” and that the man used eight phones for the job.
After connecting cell phone records and traces to the suspects’ addresses, authorities served warrants at several of the suspects’ homes, bringing in the Maldonado-Salgado brothers at a home in Fort Lupton.
Aguilar-Banuelos allegedly stayed at the Adams County home before and after Flores-Paredes’s kidnapping, and knew of the plot despite his initial statements he knew nothing. Authorities discovered he was taken to a hotel for the three days Flores-Paredes was kept at the home, though agents say his story continually changed.
All three men allegedly admitted to kidnapping Flores-Paredes and being involved in extorting his family and face first-degree kidnapping charges.
Raymundo Maldonado-Salgado also faces felony menacing and criminal extortion charges. It is unclear exactly what charges the other two face.
Some of the $200,000 in ransom money put up by the family has been recovered, but not all of it.
Authorities said at a Wednesday news conference regarding the case that Cota-Tamaura should be considered armed and dangerous. Denver Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Call 720-913-STOP with tips.