Estes Park family involved in Mexican cartel extortion, kidnapping scam

ESTES PARK, Colo. -- Police and the FBI recently investigated an international kidnapping and extortion scam that involved an Estes Park family.

The Estes Park Police Department said in a Facebook post on Thursday that it wanted to publicize the case in the event anyone else is experiencing something similar.

Police said that in April, three U.S. citizens from Estes Park were in Mexico -- where they had also spent time living during the last five years -- when a cartel member contacted them. He told the family he was watching them and said they needed to stay in their hotel room or risk being killed.

"It is believed the caller was able to use real-time information about the three persons in order to instill an intense amount of fear in them," EPPD said.

Meanwhile, the cartel member started extorting money from the family's relatives in Estes Park in order to free the family from their hotel.

"The Estes Park Police Department and FBI Denver Division assisted family members in negotiating with the cartel member until a time when law enforcement in Mexico could locate and safely recover the three persons in the hotel room. Additional investigation revealed the cartel member was more than 500 miles away when he contacted the three persons in their hotel room" EPPD said.

Police said the cartel member used "advanced technological tactics" to make the family feel threatened and prevent relatives from contacting them. Authorities warned these kinds of "digital scams" are becoming common in Mexico.

While the cartel members will usually tell their victims to avoid contacting law enforcement, EPPD and the FBI recommend people contact authorities if they are involved in a similar incident.

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