CHICAGO (CBS) — Testimony in a federal drug conspiracy trial this week detailed a kidnapping-for-ransom scheme orchestrated by the victim’s granddaughter.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the Chicago Sun-Times says Maria Saldivar, who is in her late 60s, testified that she was taking out the garbage behind the bar she owned at 47th Street and Sacramento Avenue in January 2003, when several men grabbed and threw her into a van where she was bound and gagged.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
Saldivar said she was held in the van overnight, and ended up soiling herself because her captors wouldn’t let her use the bathroom, the Sun-Times reported.
But little did Saldivar know at the time that it was allegedly all her own granddaughter’s doing. The Sun-Times reports Lissette Venegas, testifying under a federal grant of immunity, had told a drug dealer that her grandmother had hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they came up with a kidnapping for ransom scheme.
Venegas’ family paid nearly $300,000 ransom, and Saldivar was freed, the Sun-Times reports. Venegas, according to testimony, took $40,000, the paper reported.
The trial in which Saldivar testified is on charges against the alleged kidnappers – brothers Hector, Jorge and Manuel Uriarte, the Sun-Times reported.
Manuel Uriarte, 33, of Monterey Bay, Calif., also allegedly participated in the murders of Juan Luevano in Cicero on June 3, 2000, and Michael Garcia in Chicago on May 31, 2001. They were killed for money or access to drugs, federal prosecutors said last year.
A fourth defendant, former Chicago Police Officer Glen Lewellen, allegedly participated in another kidnapping and the robbery of 300 kilos of cocaine in 2003.
All of the defendants allegedly worked for Rodriguez as part of an operation nicknamed the “Rodriguez Enterprise.”
Prosecutors said the Rodriguez Enterprise was set up to enrich its leaders and members through kidnapping, violence and drug-trafficking. Besides the two murders, six kidnappings of 13 people are alleged between 2003 and 2007.
Rodriguez has pleaded guilty in the case, and is cooperating with authorities, the Sun-Times reported.