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Search Is On for Kidnap Victim

SWAT team fails to turn up anything at a Santa Paula ranch. Man was taken by four people.

August 18, 2003|Holly J. Wolcott | Times Staff Writer

Authorities continued to search Sunday for a man grabbed off an Oxnard street, a day after a massive SWAT operation at a Santa Paula-area ranch turned up nothing.

The victim, an Oxnard man whom police declined to identify, was kidnapped about 9:30 a.m. Saturday by two armed men and two others outside his girlfriend's home on Douglas Avenue, police said.

On Sunday, Oxnard Police Sgt. Steve Moore confirmed that officers were searching for a green Jeep Cherokee and a white compact car used in the kidnapping. Suspect descriptions were not released, but authorities said that they were three men and a woman, all in their 20s.

A bloodhound brought to the Douglas Avenue home Saturday led police to the ranch in the 21000 block of South Mountain Road east of Santa Paula, said sheriff's officials.

Police officers also had spotted two vehicles at or near the ranch that matched the description of the vehicles used in the kidnapping, authorities said.

By 4 p.m. Saturday, several dozen Oxnard police officers and sheriff's deputies, assisted by a helicopter, had surrounded the ranch, believing the kidnappers and victim were inside one of two homes on the property.

A family of five who live in one house and two men who live in the other house left the property after talking with officers. Another man left later. None of those people was involved in the kidnapping, authorities said.

The Ventura County Sheriff's SWAT team searched the homes but did not find the victim or the suspects, authorities said. They would not comment on what might have happened to the vehicles they had spotted earlier.

Officials said several motives were being investigated, including gang and drug activity.

Several residents of the well-maintained neighborhood where the kidnapping occurred said Sunday that the crime had been extremely brazen and alarming.

According to residents, the victim's girlfriend and her three children have lived in a rented home on the street for three years, and the woman had been dating the victim for about two months.

It was unclear if the victim lived at the home, but he was seen there regularly. On Saturday, residents said, he had pulled into the driveway shortly before 9:30 a.m.

As he walked toward the front door, the Cherokee and the compact car pulled up and the armed men jumped out and grabbed him. The kidnappers then stuffed him into the rear seat of the compact car and sped off.

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