Criminals who kidnapped an elderly couple in the United States and then forcibly brought them to Quebec to demand ransom have hatched a plan worthy of a movie script, one of the defendants learned Tuesday at the start of the trial.
“With their heads covered, the couple were forced into a vehicle and smuggled through the Akwesasne reservation to enter Canada. Then they were transported by boat to Valleyfield, then by car to Magog for two days in isolation,” explained the Crown’s Mee Kim Chaiken in a Montreal courtroom this Tuesday.
Sitting in the dock, Gary Arnold, 54, listened intently as he claimed to be part of a group that abducted septuagenarians James and Sandra Helm in September 2020.
Garry Arnold alleged
On the night of the abduction, this unsuspecting couple was enjoying the tranquility of their home in upstate New York when two men broke into their home. The victims were ordered to follow in a car, which took them to Quebec.
“The pair were used as leverage in a failed drug deal involving their grandson,” Crown said. The traffickers wanted the couple to exchange money, drugs, or their grandson or his mother. »
For two days, the couple was quarantined in a house in Magok. However, their son contacted the police and called them. This led to a major investigation where the FBI, the American DEA, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Sûreté du Québec collaborated.
The pair were eventually located and the SQ intervention team managed to rescue the pair. The prosecutor explained that in addition to Gary Arnold, several kidnappers have been identified, including Lawrence Martin Thomas and Franco D’Onofrio.
Arnold, who is facing a jury trial, is charged with kidnapping, forcible confinement, extortion and conspiracy. The accused, Mr. John D. Pepper pleaded not guilty.
A jury trial presided over by Judge Michael Benno is scheduled for several weeks, during which 14 witnesses will be questioned.
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