Henderson Man's Harrowing Tale of 'Virtual Kidnapping' - 8 News NOW

Henderson Man's Harrowing Tale of 'Virtual Kidnapping'

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Henderson, Nev. -- For the first time, a Henderson man is sharing his three-day kidnapping nightmare.

Jose Ramirez, who is 72-year-old, was threatened and followed in Mexico. But that is not all, criminals also called his wife here demanding a million dollar ransom.

Ramirez traveled to Mexico for the Ironman Cozumel Triathlon on Dec 1. He swam 2.5 miles, biked 112 miles, and then ran a full marathon all in one day.

But that night, in the middle of the night, he heard a commotion outside his room and then the phone rang. He got a call with specific orders that he was told he must follow, or he would be harmed.

"I knew something was wrong," Ramirez recalls. "They stated that they were the police and that I needed to listen to them. Otherwise, they were going to do harm to me."

The caller claimed to be from Los Zetas, a violent criminal syndicate in Mexico. Ramirez, who was a police officer with the New York City Police Department for 20 years, knew he couldn't take any chances.

"If I would have said screw you, and just stay in the hotel, they'd come and knock the door down and force me out of the room and then I would have been physically kidnapped, and it would have been worse," Ramirez said.

Ramirez was told to get up an go to a nearby convenience store to buy a throwaway cell phone. There, he believes crooked cops showed up, along with a woman.

"They made sure I knew who they were, that they were looking at me," Ramirez said.

Over three long days, criminals were tracking his moves, he says at times following him, and always in touch over the phone.

Five thugs communicated with Ramirez through that cheap phone. He was ordered to check into a second hotel on the island.

"They call it virtual kidnapping or something like that." Ramirez said.

The crooks made a ransom call to Ramirez's home in Henderson.

"They told my wife that they would break my legs and do harm to me if she didn't come up with a million dollars." he said.

She called authorities.

"It's our best, Henderson Police and the FBI," Ramirez said. "They had my picture looking for me, and eventually found the hotel I was in."

Ramirez was stuck in the hotel for two and a half days before he was rescued.

He was relieved to see the FBI and Mexican agents.

"I never expected to have anything like this to happen to me," Ramirez said.

He is still an athlete, but don't count on a return trip.

The crooks had Ramirez withdraw 10,000 pesos, or about $772. Authorities are investigating, but Ramirez believes he is out of that money for good.

No one has been arrested, but on the bright side, before this drama all began, Ramirez finished second place in his age group in the Ironman Triathlon.

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