Woman Rescued, Five Charged In Kidnapping Case
Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis announced the success of a major operation to save a kidnapped woman.
Flanked by representatives of the FBI, ICE, SLED, Greenville Police Department and his own agency, Greenville County Sheriff Steve Loftis announced Wednesday afternoon the success of an extensive operation to rescue a kidnapping victim.
"This could not have happened without the cooperation of many law enforcement agencies," Loftis said to a room packed with media at the bottom floor of the Greenville County Law Enforcement Center.
What followed was an explanation of an intense operation that demanded the labor of more than 100 officers across multiple agencies.
At 10:45 p.m. Sunday, the GCSO was notified by a hispanic female that she and a woman named Rosa Garcia had both been kidnapped while delivering bread for Lighthouse Bakery, a business on East North Street in Greenville.
The caller, who investigators will not identify, told dispatch that she was with Garcia when the kidnapping occurred. Investigators were told that Garcia and the other woman were on Dixie Circle when they got a phone call asking for an unscheduled delivery. The two were provided directions to a nearby area, where they were abducted, according to information released by the GCSO.
The women were both blindfolded and put into a vehicle occupied by a hispanic female and two hispanic males, and driven to an known residence. Later, the unidentified victim was taken to the K-Mart on Wade Hampton Boulevard, where she was inexplicably released, leaving Garcia as the only remaining captive.
By Monday morning, a text message was sent by the captors to a member of Garcia's family, demanding an unspecific amount of ransom money. The text indicated Garcia would be killed if the police were contacted.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division were then called in to assist with the investigation. By noon Monday, South Carolina Highway Patrol spotted a 1999 Oldsmobile Silhouette at Saad Lane and Conley Street in Greenville, which turned out to be the vehicle Garcia had been driving before she was abducted.
By Tuesday, the GCSO received information regarding people who may be involved within the city of Greenville's jurisdiction. The investigation by the Greenville PD and the GCSO led to Andover Park, apartment No. 153 which is on Cleveland Street. By 6 p.m. Tuesdsay, SWAT teams from the GCSO and Greenville PD, executed a search warrant on that residence and took Annaly Esquivel Morales and Juan Esquival Morales into custody. Annaly was identified as a former employee at Lighthouse Bakery, of which Garcia is the owner, and Juan is a family member of Annaly's, Loftis said.
Soon, the investigation led to a local restaurant, where Ivan Aguilar Lopez and Miguest Esquival were found and arrested. Garcia was rescued just before 9 p.m. - the captors' deadline for paying the ransom - at the Regal Inn at 536 Wade Hampton Boulevard. Garcia was found safe and unharmed, being held against her will by one more individual involved in the kidnapping operation, identified as Maria Barrera Carrera.
The five suspects were connected mostly through familial relationships. Annaly Moralez is married to Ivan Lopez, and Juan Moralez is also a member of the family. All five suspects are illegal immigrants, and have holds place on them by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Officials said Wednesday that they will be ultimately deported no matter how the case is resolved, even if its after they've served sentences for the kidnapping in the event they are convicted.
The charges are as follows:
- Annaly Esquivel Morales - Kidnapping
- Ivan Aguilar Lopez - Kidnapping
- Juan Esquivel Morales - Conspiracy
- Maria Barrera Carrera - Kidnapping
- Miguel Esquival - Conspiracy
Loftis credited the cooperation between the agencies for saving Garcia's life, saying officers worked "desperately" to bring the victim back home unharmed.
"You can't put a price on a person's life," Loftis said.