3 men arrested in abduction

Day laborer, 22, was forced into car at knifepoint on East Baltimore street

Baltimore & Region


Hugo Umana and his older brother, Jose, were walking down an East Baltimore street shortly before 6 a.m. yesterday, heading to work as day laborers, when a car pulled up next to them.

Some men jumped out and forced Hugo Umana, 22, into their car - a Ford Focus with Texas license plates - at knifepoint, but not before he tossed his cell phone to his brother, Baltimore police said.

The brother called police, who brought him to the homicide division for interviews. About 7:30 a.m., the cell phone rang.

But Jose Umana didn't speak to them. Instead, Officer Jason Rivera, who speaks Spanish, posed as another brother and began a conversation with the captors, police said.

The kidnappers said they had Hugo Umana and that he owed them $500, said Maj. Richard C. Fahlteich, commander of the homicide section, which investigates abductions in the city.

Fahlteich said the men are thought to be coyotes - people engaged in the illegal trafficking of undocumented individuals - and might have smuggled the brothers into the United States.

After negotiations with the officer, who offered to give the kidnappers $600 in exchange for Umana, they agreed to meet in Washington, Fahlteich said.

Police also notified authorities on the East Coast to be on the lookout for the vehicle, and about noon, police in Virginia Beach, Va., stopped a vehicle fitting the description of the one sought by Baltimore police. They arrested Jorge Alberto Zuniga Paredes, 25; Fredy D. Aleman, 21; and Jose Eduardo Salguerro Cabeza, 34, Fahlteich said.

Hugo Umana was not injured. He remained in Virginia but will probably return to Baltimore soon, Fahlteich said.

The brothers live on Leverton Avenue in East Baltimore. Umana was abducted nearby, in the 2300 block of E. Baltimore St.

"He wasn't harmed, he wasn't killed, he wasn't left on the side of the road," Fahlteich said.

City police were drawing up arrest warrants for the men, who could face kidnapping charges, Fahlteich said. Authorities were investigating the immigration status of the three men.

If evidence is found of illegal trafficking of immigrants, Fahlteich said, police will consider calling in federal authorities.


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