Police rescue New York man, held captive for a month in warehouse

By Jonathan Allen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Police rescued a businessman from a New York City warehouse where he had been held captive for a month by kidnappers who demanded a $3 million ransom from his family in Ecuador, authorities said.

Acting on a tip from the victim's mother, police found Pedro Portugal, 52, in the warehouse with his hands bound in cloth and duct tape. He had been abducted in the borough of Queens on April 18 by a man who approached him, flashing what looked like a police badge, prosecutors said.

The man and an accomplice grabbed Portugal and forced him into a vehicle, said prosecutors, who charged three men with the kidnapping late on Wednesday.

The men pulled a mask over Portugal's face, punched him, held a knife to his belly and warned him to stay quiet, prosecutors said.

Portugal was taken to a warehouse, where, over the course of a month, he was hooded, tied up and beaten, authorities said. The men burned his hands with acid, punched out some of his teeth, threatened to chop off his fingers and kill him.

"This is a terrifying story," Richard Brown, the Queens district attorney, said in a statement.

Christian Acuna, 35, Dennis Alves, 32, and Eduardo Moncayo, 38, were arraigned on charges of kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment on Wednesday and were being held without bail.

A lawyer who represented Alves at his arraignment said Alves planned to plead not guilty. Lawyers for the other two defendants could not be reached on Thursday.

Police said other men involved in the kidnapping have not yet been found, including a man the defendants say had hired them to do the kidnapping.

Alves told police he had been promised $5,000 to kidnap and guard Portugal during the day, along with Acuna, who told police he was getting $800 per week for the job, according to the criminal complaint.

All three defendants were in the room, along with a fourth man, when Portugal first rang his family in Ecuador to ask for the $3 million ransom, the complaint said. Portugal's mother then called the police.

Police tracked Portugal's location to a warehouse in Long Island City in Queens. On Monday, a team of officers posing as building inspectors went inside and found Portugal on the third floor with his hands bound while Acuna attempted to flee, police said.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Bernadette Baum)