Promised a secret trip to Florida, Armando Ismael Victores-Martinez left his native Cuba on a boat in hopes of joining his father in Tampa.
Instead, he and others aboard that boat in March 2009 found themselves in Mexico - and captives in a house.
Victores-Martinez was told that if he didn't find a way to pay $10,000, he would be beaten to death.
This tale helped a federal grand jury indict three Cuban nationals on charges they operated an international kidnapping ring, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa said Thursday.
Prosecutors say the three promised to bring Cubans with relatives in the United States to Florida, but instead held them in Mexico while demanding ransom from family members.
The number of victims and details about the discovery and arrest of the ring members are still unknown. The indictment took place in May, and was made public Thursday.
"We are fairly tight-lipped right now," said Steve Cole, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, brothers Hector Daniel Camejo de la Flor, 23, and Carlos Martinez de la Flor, 32, worked with their uncle, Alexis Alberto Viltres Ramos, 42, to pull off the kidnappings.
Camejo de la Flor and his uncle operated out of Miami, while Martinez de la Flor kept the hostages at a house in Mexico, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.
In late March 2009, the kidnappers forced Victores-Martinez to call his father, Jose Armando Victores-Ruiz, according to the indictment.
After Camejo de la Flor and his uncle collected the ransom in Tampa, the indictment says, Victores-Martinez was brought to Texas and then to Florida a few weeks later.
Reached at his Tampa home Thursday, Victores-Ruiz declined to comment for the story, but said his son had indeed been kidnapped.
The three men have been charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, kidnapping and extortion. If convicted on all counts, each faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
More details are about the case are likely to emerge at Martinez de la Flor's arraignment and detention hearing, scheduled for July 26.
Nandini Jayakrishna can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or email@example.com.