BY CRISTABELLE TUMOLA AND ANGY ALTAMIRANO
Three men have been arrested for kidnapping a man off a Jackson Heights street in broad daylight and holding him in a warehouse for a month in a $3 million ransom attempt, the district attorney’s office said Wednesday.
Christian Acuna, 35, of Corona, Dennis Alves, 32, of East Elmhurst, and Eduardo Moncayo, 38, of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, are currently awaiting arraignment on kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment charges. If convicted, each of the men could face up to 25 years to life in prison.
According to the charges, on April 18, Moncayo approached the victim, 52-year-old Pedro Portugal, on Roosevelt Avenue and showed him what appeared to be an NYPD badge.
Moncayo and an unapprehended man then allegedly grabbed Portugal and forced him into a vehicle.
He was driven to a Long Island City warehouse where he was bound, beaten and burnt with acid by a group of unknown men over a 32-day period.
The men told Portugal that they knew he had property in the United States, and he was ordered to call his mother and brother in Ecuador and ask for $3 million in ransom.
Portugal’s ordeal came to an end May 20 when police rescued him from inside the warehouse.
“Nobody said anything,” said Flavio Camposano, worker at Sign Zone, one of the businesses working out of the warehouse on 43rd Avenue, where Portugal was allegedly held captive. “Everything was regular.”
According to Camposano, a man shouted asking for help through an open window on the third floor of the warehouse on Monday and then at around 3 p.m. police swarmed the area.
Local business owners at 88-06 Roosevelt Avenue said Portugal worked as an accountant on the second floor of the building.
“I was surprised to hear what happened because it was in the middle of the day,” said a worker at Cholula Bakery who wished to remain anonymous and who saw Portugal get his breakfast at the shop every day. “There were so many people on the street. It’s so great he was found.”
Sergio Ruiz, owner of a deli at 88-04 Roosevelt Avenue, has known Portugal for the past 13 years and said the surveillance camera from his store shows Portugal leaving the building calmly the day of the kidnapping. Ruiz believes that if he was approached by men identifying themselves as cops he would have been in the same situation.
“At the moment someone just reacts and just does it,” said Ruiz.
Pedro Portugal, a 52-year-old man from Woodside, was allegedly kidnapped outside this Jackson Heights location on April 18 and held for ransom for 32 days.
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