An elderly husband and wife were abducted from their home by a group of men who held them on a ransom, asking the couple's son to exchange $3.5 million worth of seized cocaine for their release.
On Sunday, Sept. 27, authorities say the suspects "forcibly entered" the Moira, New York, home of James, 76, and Sandra Helm, 70, and kidnapped them. The couple was taken to Quebec where they were "put in a boat, taken to mainland Canada, and then transported to Quebec’s eastern townships where they were held for several days," Antoinette T. Bacon, acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York, explained in a press release.
The New York State Police identified the Helms two days after they were taken, issuing a missing persons announcement on Twitter at the time.
According to The New York Times, the kidnappers made contact with the victims' son explaining that their ransom was the return of 50kg of cocaine said to be worth $3.5 million. They claimed the drugs belonged to them but were stolen.
Officers from the Surete du Quebec rescued the victims from a house in Magog, Quebec, on Sept. 29, and four of the alleged co-conspirators have been charged in Canada in connection with the kidnapping, according to Bacon.
Graigory Brown, 50, of Plattsburgh, New York, was charged with conspiring to kidnap, said Bacon, who described the case as a "terrifying ordeal." According to the Times, Brown is in custody awaiting a preliminary hearing next week.
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"I would like to thank our law enforcement partners, including the FBI, New York State Police, Surete du Quebec, and Akwesasne Mohawk Police, for bringing them home safely," Bacon said. "We will continue to work together on both sides of the border to secure justice in this case and hold accountable all those involved in this horrific crime."
FBI Special Agent in Charge Thomas F. Relford added in a statement: "Mr. Brown’s alleged actions put an innocent couple in harm’s way during a truly terrifying situation. Through swift coordination with our law enforcement partners at NYS Police, Suerte du Quebec, and the Akwesasne Mohawk Police, we were able to bring the victims home safely and ensure justice will be served for those responsible for this despicable act."
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