PHILADELPHIA — Federal prosecutors announced Thursday that eight men have been charged in the kidnapping and murder last year of a North Philadelphia businessman whose body was found in Maryland.
The victim, Luis Alejandro Chueder Ramon, 27, a landlord and bar owner who had been reported kidnapped by Philadelphia police, was abducted in June from a residence on the 2000 block of North Orkney Street in North Philadelphia. His remains were found in late August in Port Deposit, Cecil County, Md.
The eight men -- identified as Salvatore Sanchez Guerrero, 47, Robert Favors, 39, and John Perkins, 31, all of Philadelphia; Jose Delgado, 40, of Warminster; Fermín Perez Mejia, 35, of Norristown; Jose Bernal, 30, of Newark, Del.; Ivan Rangel Prieto, 34, of Asheboro, N.C.; and Jose Castillo, 44, of Albuquerque, N.M. -- were charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Thursday. All but Mejia also were charged with the actual kidnapping.
According to the indictment, which was unsealed Wednesday:
The eight conspired to kidnap Ramon and hold him for ransom. As part of the kidnapping ruse, Prieto and Castillo met in early June 2018 with Ramon and a friend of his at a Doylestown fast-food restaurant to discuss Ramon's ability to provide a property to be used in connection with drug-trafficking activity.
On June 19 the defendants allegedly went to the Orkney Street residence and met up with Ramon, who was "physically assaulted" and forced into a vehicle that was driven to a Chester County residential garage. Ramon was restrained with duct tape, handcuffs, and zip ties.
Prieto, Castillo, Bernal, Delgado, or Guerrero allegedly shot Ramon at least once in his head, killing him, either in Pennsylvania or Maryland, where he was taken on or about June 19. The five also are charged with possessing or using a firearm in a crime of violence.
After Ramon was kidnapped, the defendants called his wife with "demands for ransom in the amount of hundreds of thousands of dollars," and a ransom call was also made to an associate of Ramon's, the indictment says. Philadelphia police previously said that the victim's wife told them she had met on June 21 with a man in South Philadelphia and paid a ransom, but did not disclose the amount.
"These ruthless individuals are a serious threat to the safety of our neighborhoods -- not just in Philadelphia, but the entire mid-Atlantic region and beyond," U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain said in a statement.
No attorneys were listed on the court docket for Prieto, Castillo, and Bernal. Luther Weaver III, Favors' attorney, and William J. Brennan, Mejia's attorney, declined to comment Thursday. Attorneys for the other defendants did not immediately respond to a call or email.
If convicted, Prieto, Castillo, Bernal, Delgado, Guerrero, Favors, and Perkins face a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. The kidnapping charge also carries the possibility of the death penalty, prosecutors said. The maximum sentence for Mejia would be life imprisonment.
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