FELLSMERE — Four men who deputies said kidnapped another man, brutally beat him by a canal and threatened to feed his body to “hungry alligators,” were detained over the weekend.
The beating left the man with scarring and permanent disfigurement, deputies said. The men beat the victim because they thought he was spreading rumors about the wife of one of the suspects, reports show.
The men involved in the attack are Jorge Bustamante, 46, of the 100 block of Bay Street, Manuel Torres, 44, and Daniel Torres, 33, both of the 100 block of Elm Street, and Adrian Mojica, court records show. All four were each charged with kidnapping and aggravated battery.
Bustamante, along with Manuel and Daniel Torres, live in Fellsmere, reports show. Mojica’s booking information was not available.
The wife of the victim called Indian River County deputies about 9 p.m. April 3, saying her husband was kidnapped, beaten and “left for dead” in the middle of farmland in Fellsmere, reports show. Deputies, including a Spanish language interpreter, went to the woman’s home.
The woman was on the phone with her husband, who was explaining the attack in detail. Deputies said the suspects went to the couple’s home earlier on April 3 looking for the husband, who they knew.
The suspects invited the victim out for beer as a ruse, reports show. The men, waiting in a white four-door company work truck containing scaffolding and ladders, convinced the husband to join them.
The victim rode with the men to a Sunoco gas station, where Mojica bought the beer. Then, Daniel Torres told the victim he wouldn’t be coming home tonight because “they were going to throw him into the canal with the hungry alligators,” reports show.
When the victim tried to leave the truck, the men grabbed his arms and held him in place, deputies said. Daniel Torres then drove the truck to a remote location in the 147000 block of 111th Street.
The men forced the victim out of the truck, pushed him against a barbed wire fence and punched him repeatedly, reports show. Deputies said Manuel Torres pulled out a knife and held it to the victim’s stomach.
The men then began to push the victim toward the canal, reports show. When the victim’s shirt got caught in a barbed wire fence, he squeezed through gaps between the wiring to escape, deputies said.
While deputies searched for the victim, they spotted several alligators swimming in the canal waters. Florida is in alligator mating season, running from April through May, which means gators will be more visible and active.
Deputies found the victim, who had severe injuries to his face and upper body, at a nearby home. Deputies tracked down the suspects in Fellsmere and booked them into the county jail.
Bustamante, Manuel and Daniel Torres each have arraignments at 8:45 a.m. June 5, court records show. The three men were ordered to not have contact with the victim.
Mojica’s arraignment has not yet been set, court records show.