Records: Smugglers kidnapped Chinese immigrant in McAllen, demanded $15,000 ransom
Smugglers kidnapped a Chinese immigrant last week in McAllen — and mercilessly beat the man when he refused to pay them $15,000, according to federal court records.
At 4:19 p.m. on Dec. 4, the McAllen Police Department responded to a strange call on the 200 block of South 48th Lane.
The caller said a Chinese immigrant "who appeared to be severely beaten jumped into their car pleading for assistance," according to the federal criminal complaint.
When police arrived, though, the Chinese immigrant had vanished. Witnesses said people traveling in a black SUV had kidnapped him.
Officers later found the man "along a roadside badly beaten," according to the criminal complaint. They transported him to the hospital.
At the request of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the McAllen Police Department, CBS 4 News withheld details about the incident for several days to avoid interfering with the investigation.
The kidnappers apparently had second thoughts about dumping the Chinese immigrant and started making calls.
"McAllen Police Department Investigators responded and made contact with the concerned citizen who said that they were receiving calls from an unknown male claiming to be looking for the person who was requesting assistance," according to the criminal complaint.
Officers conducted a sting operation at the Fallas Paredes store on South 23rd Street, telling the caller they would hand over the Chinese immigrant.
When Serafin Rangel-Martinez arrived at the store looking for the Chinese immigrant, investigators arrested him.
Police contacted Homeland Security Investigations, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which sent federal agents to question Rangel and the Chinese immigrant.
The Chinese immigrant said smugglers demanded $15,000 after he illegally crossed the border, according to the criminal complaint. When he refused to pay, the smugglers beat him.
"He waited until the smugglers were busy and ran away to look for help," according to the criminal complaint.
The Chinese immigrant jumped in a car and convinced the occupants to call for help, according
to the criminal complaint. Smugglers dragged him away before police arrived.
The Chinese immigrant "claims once in the car the smugglers beat him with their fist and blunt objects until he was eventually pushed out of the smugglers vehicle, abandoned on the side of the road until discovered by a police officer, who took him to the hospital," according to the criminal complaint.
He suffered extensive injuries, including a puncture wound to the skull.
An attorney for the Chinese immigrant, who isn't legally present in the United States, didn't respond to a request for comment.
Rangel, a Mexican citizen who isn't legally present in the United States, remains in federal custody. He's charged with bringing in and harboring aliens.
An attorney who represents Rangel didn't respond to a request for comment.