6 Accused Of Kidnapping, Holding Man For Ransom

Man's Life Threatened If Ransom Wasn't Paid, Officials Said

A man was kidnapped and held for ransom at a south Bakersfield home, officials said.

On Monday at about 11 p.m., deputies were sent to the 14600 block of Wallace Road in a remote area just outside of McFarland regarding a possible kidnapping.

Deputies said they contacted the wife of 29-year-old Ofelio Victor Garcia Castrejon and she said she had arrived home shortly before calling the Sheriff’s Office and had observed her husband, being driven from their home in a brown Toyota Corolla.

As he was being driven away, he appeared to be in distress and he yelled at her to call his father, deputies said. She believed the people in the vehicle had kidnapped him.

Additional deputies and specialized units from the Sheriff’s Office including the Gang Suppression Section, SWAT, Major Violators, the Detectives Section, CAL-MMET, K-NET, and Air Support Unit as well as the Bakersfield Police Department and the FBI also began assisting in the investigation.

While the investigation was ongoing, officials said one of the people in the car made contact with a relative of Castrejon several times demanding ransom for the safe return of Castrejon. The person also threatened to kill Castrejon if the ransom was not paid.

As the investigation continued, deputies said they were able to determine that the suspects were in the Bakersfield area and identified two possible residences associated with the people, an apartment at 4600 Maybrook Ave. in south Bakersfield and a house in the 2600 block of Layton Drive in south Bakersfield. Deputies were able to maintain surveillance on both residences.

During the afternoon hours on Tuesday, deputies said they saw a vehicle leave the home on Layton Drive.

Deputies said they began a surveillance of the vehicle and followed the vehicle to the area of Tulare. While deputies were following the vehicle to Tulare, the suspects contacted Castrejon’s relative attempting to arrange the exchange of the ransom for Castrejon.

Deputies said they stopped the vehicle in a shopping center on Prosperity Ave in Tulare County at about 4:45 p.m.

Four people occupied the vehicle, officials said. One of them attempted to flee on foot but was taken into custody after a brief foot pursuit.

The other three were taken into custody out of the vehicle.

Deputies said they were able to find Castrejon who was restrained in the rear compartment of the vehicle. Castrejon was later transported by ambulance to Tulare District Hospital where he was treated for injuries to his face and neck. He was later released from the hospital. Deputies said they also found a Glock handgun inside the vehicle.

As the vehicle was being stopped, deputies were able to execute search warrants at the apartment on Maybrook Avenue and the house on Layton Drive.

As a result of the search warrants, two women, one from the apartment and one from the house were arrested. Deputies were able to determine that Castrejon had been held at the home on Layton Drive for several hours prior to being placed in the vehicle and driven to the Tulare area.

Arrested were Benny Shantel Hunter, 32; Japer Lee Bagsby, 25; Vincent Cabre Sterling Jr., 25; Michael Wayne Vaughn Culp, 25; Lewistine Whitfield, 30; and Genoveva Ronquillo, 36, on charges of torture, kidnap for ransom with injury, kidnap during robbery, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy. The investigation is ongoing and additional gang crimes and weapons crimes may be charged.

All of the suspects were booked into the Kern County Jail Central Receiving Facility. The suspects are being held without bail. The investigation is ongoing. If anyone has information on this case they are asked to call the Kern County Sheriff’s Office at 661-861-3110. Anonymous text tips can be sent to TIP411 (847411). Just type the keyword “KCSO” prior to the message.

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