Couple found guilty of kidnapping Philadelphia teenager, holding him in Leonia’s apartment raided by FBI

A Leonia man and a California accomplice have been convicted of kidnapping a Philadelphia teenager and bringing him to Bergen County, where the leader of their group was shot and killed during a bold and dramatic rescue by the FBI.

Eduardo Castelan-Prado, 39, of Leonia, and Jose Ochoa, 32, of Moreno Valley, Calif., and their unidentified partner snatched the 17-year-old victim at gunpoint outside the restaurant where he was working last June 14, apparently to convince his father to pay off a drug debt of hundreds of thousands of dollars, authorities said.

The men brought the boy to a garden apartment complex in Leonia, where they held the teenager captive while demanding $500,000 from his parents, according to a complaint filed in the US District Court in Philadelphia.

At one point, the kidnappers threatened to resort to “plan B” – without specifying what it was – if they did not receive their money. They even let the boy’s mother talk to him as proof that he was still alive, the complaint states.

FBI agents reviewed the security video and identified a Jeep with California license plates which they traced to the Lakeview Apartments just off Grand Avenue and Route 95 in Leonia.

The registered owner was a woman with a criminal drug history who lives in the complex.

Early in the morning of June 16, 2021, the FBI stormed the apartment. They found the boy blindfolded on a couch. Next to him, holding a gun, was the accused leader.

He pointed the gun at officers, who shot and killed him, the criminal complaint states. The boy was physically unharmed, he said.

His father would later investigate that he owed $180,000 to a Mexican national for “a quantity of drugs he never received”, which he assumed had been stolen or intercepted by authorities, according to the complaint.

“The events of this case are every parent’s worst nightmare: someone with bad intentions forcibly taking their child away,” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Jacqueline C. Romero, said Friday.

Jacqueline Maguire, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia division, said the boy had been “pawned in a despicable and dangerous scheme for money”.

The kidnapping convictions mean Castelan-Prado and Ochoa will be “off the streets and behind bars for decades, unable to victimize anyone else’s child,” Maguire added.

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