On April 18th, Pedro Portugal, was approached in his office by a man who showed him what looked to be a policeman’s badge. He was then kidnapped, forced into an SUV at knifepoint, was bound and gagged, and driven to a warehouse where he would be tortured and held for over a month. Little did his captures know, they had mistakenly kidnapped the 52-year-old accountant.
Mr. Portugal is a father of six. He owns a small business accounting and tax firm in Queens. The day he was abducted, his mother, who lives in Quito, Ecuador, received a call from a man who identified himself a “Tito”. He demanded a ransom of 3 million dollars. His family is not wealthy, and was not able to give the money to the kidnappers.
Portugal was held in the warehouse, and repeatedly tortured with acid and beaten. He spent most of the time with his head cloaked, and bound to a chair.
Portugal was rescued by police this week. Several accounts have been given to reporters as to how his rescue came about.
The most credible says that Portugal’s family may have ties to organized crime in Ecuador. They own several small properties, and the perpetrators must have believed they could pay the 3 million dollar ransom.
Police searched databases of people who had traveled to and from Ecuador around the time of the kidnapping. Their search led them to Eduardo Moncayo of New Jersey, and Christian Acuna and Dennis Alves of Queens, New York, and to the warehouse they owned. Police disguised themselves as building inspectors, forced their way into the building and discovered Portugal on the third floor, who literally tumbled into their arms. He said, “I’ve been kidnapped”, and began to tell them his story.
The three suspects were charged with kidnapping on Wednesday, and are being held without bail. The Huffington Post reported that two more suspects are still at large.
The suspects who are under arrest claimed that they were being paid to keep Portugal detained by Claudio Ordonez, known as “Doctor”. They received 800 dollars a week, 5,000 dollars total.
The warehouse is located in Long Island City. When police had reasonable suspicion that they had found the probable location of Portugal’s confinement, they began monitoring phone calls, and witnessed several pizza deliveries to the deserted building.
Police are baffled as to why Portugal’s abductors believed he and his family had assets worth millions of dollars. Quietly, there are fears that this may be the beginning of the type of kidnappings that are frequent in Latin American countries and Mexico or perhaps, Portugal’s kidnappers mistakenly believed he was someone else.
Mr. Portugal continues to receive treatment in a local hospital.