Three suspected gang members were in custody Wednesday while a fourth was being sought for allegedly kidnapping a married couple in Pico Rivera and torturing the husband over an unpaid debt.
The kidnapping occurred on May 13, said Lt. Erik Ruble of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s Operation Safe Streets Bureau.
The man was held for five days in a garage at a residence in the 8800 block of Clarinda Avenue in Pico Rivera, while his wife was let go and ordered to come back with $6,000 to secure his release, he said, adding that at one point she was forced at gunpoint to sign over ownership of her vehicle.
The kidnappers taped the man to a chair and cut his ear with a knife, Ruble said. They also heated a knife and burned a four-letter epithet onto his stomach area and smashed his fingers with a handgun, all while threatening to kill him, he said.
The man eventually escaped when his captors put him into a car and left the garage.
Law enforcement was contacted and the man’s wife was located, Ruble said. Investigators then served a search warrant at the Pico Rivera residence of George Steven Karavolos, 33, and seized evidence, including a handgun and the knife used against the victims, he said.
Karavolos was arrested May 23, along with parolee Alfonso Eric Acuna, 32, and Francisco Xavier Barraza, 35. Still at large is suspect Javier Francis, 49, for whom a felony arrest warrant has been issued, Ruble said.
All of the suspects are from Pico Rivera and are known “Rivera 13” gang members, he said.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office on May 25 filed two counts of extortion, aggravated mayhem, torture, kidnapping for ransom, making criminal threats and gang enhancements against the suspects, Ruble said.
Karavolos was being held in the Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles and Barraza was jailed at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, each in lieu of $4 million bail, according to sheriff’s online booking records.
Acuna was jailed at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility in Los Angeles on a no-bail hold, according to the Sheriff’s Department website.
All three are due to appear in Whittier Municipal Court on June 8, according to online booking records.