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US officials announced that five alleged drug dealers are accused of having kidnapped the grandparents of an associate from their home in upstate New York, and then bringing them to Canada where they were held hostage until police intervention.
Authorities say that five men, four from Quebec and one from Plattsburgh, NY, are facing kidnapping, forcible confinement and extortion charges for abducting James and Sandra Helm of Moira, NY, a small town near the Canada-US border.
An FBI agent described a troubling series of events that were aimed at recovering a drug cache, in the criminal complaint filed against 50-year-old Gregory Brown of Plattsburgh. The drug cache had been seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Sandra Helm told the FBI that the suspects took her and her husband over roads and water with pillowcases or hoods over their heads.
When announcing Brown’s arrest, Acting U.S. Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon said: “According to the complaint, Brown and his co-conspirators put an elderly couple through a terrifying ordeal,”
Officials said that one of the couple’s sons went to check on his parents after 76-year-old James Helm didn’t show up for work on September 28. He found their door jammed open with them nowhere in sight.
He then called police, who arrived at the scene to find the couple’s bed unmade, and an overturned container of dog treats in the master bedroom.
According to officials, the son then received a phone from one of the drug dealers, who said he had his parents and would trade them for the cocaine which was stolen from someone who identified as “individual-1” They offered to give him back his parents for US $3.5 million, the value of the stolen cocaine. The son in question was not in possession of the cocaine.
The son received additional calls, as well as text messages which included a picture of his mom and dad sitting on chairs, authorities say.
The Quebec provincial police found the couple in a home in Magog, QC, after tracking down the cellphone used by the suspects. One of the couple’s grandsons, Mackenzie Helm, and his mother Michelle were arrested by DEA agents a week earlier for trafficking cocaine through South Burlington, Vermont.