Apparently, 30 pounds of weed is the going rate for kidnapping a man wanted by a drug cartel.
And no, this isn’t an excerpt from an episode of Breaking Bad. What you’re reading is one of the more bizarre incidents to occur at the U.S.-Mexico border in recent memory.
The Proposed Swap
It all starts with the victim, A.G., or otherwise known as “Ghost,” a man with a cartel bounty on his head. According to FBI reports, A.G. “had been involved in both alien smuggling and trafficking marijuana for the past few years.” A.G. estimated that he had partaken in around 30 such incidents over the years.
A 54-year-old criminal, Roxanne “Rocky” Marie Carpenter, was an acquaintance of Ghost’s and was approached by the cartel after, according to Carpenter’s testimony, an undisclosed amount of marijuana in which Ghost was responsible for went missing. According to a court filing from Carpenter’s attorney, the cartel showed up at the defendant’s home with AK-47 assault rifles, demanding the whereabouts of Ghost.
“They were looking for the marijuana for which Ghost was responsible,” the report noted.
Carpenter then began negotiations regarding Ghost’s bounty. The initial asking price was for $37,000, but Carpenter would also have to produce the missing marijuana to receive that reward. The cartel then reportedly offered a truck, but Carpenter declined.
Eventually, the two parties settled on 30 pounds of cannabis in exchange for A.G.
Soon after, Carpenter assembled her crew, consisting of Phoelix “Lokie” Begay, Fausto “Zombie” Velazquez and Brian Edward Meyers.
Begy, a veteran of the U.S. Army, was hired for muscle. Meyers was a friend of Ghost’s and was being used as a lure.
Velazquez, who lives with Carpenter, worked with Ghost in the past and apparently maintained a strong rapport with certain members of the cartel. Ghost also believed it was Velazquez who was responsible for the marijuana that went missing.
“Ghost blamed it, and still blames it, on codefendant Fausto ‘Zombie’ Velazquez, to whom he claims he subcontracted the missing marijuana,” the report stated.
On the eve of the kidnapping, Carpenter gave Begay and Meyers a cattle prod and handguns to subdue A.G.
Meyers picked up Ghost and Begay on the morning of March 29 and drove off to a remote area.
Begay then struck A.G. in the neck with the cattle prod, and eventually, the two were able to get him into a pair of handcuffs. The duo then duct taped his mouth, arms and legs and placed him in the trunk of the car.
Meyers and Begay then met Carpenter and Velazquez at a Safeway in Bisbee, where a call was made to arrange a dropoff in Mexico.
Carpenter’s job was to drop off the car with two cartel members. As Carpenter made her way across the border, A.G. was able to escape the trunk without her noticing. In fact, she didn’t even realize Ghost had been missing until she reached the cartel members 600 meters away from the border crossing.
Carpenter was then urged to walk back across the border on foot, while they would dispose of the vehicle. She was taken into custody by FBI agents soon after.
Final Hit: Kidnapped Man About To Be Traded For 30 Pounds Of Pot Escapes
Despite Carpenter’s alibi that the cartel left her in a life or death situation, federal prosecutors believe it was greed that fueled the group’s plot.
Carpenter even admitted as much in one of her initial interviews.
“Well, what triggered it was Lokie [Begay] came to me and said, ‘Rocky, we need to get some money. Living like this is ridiculous,’” Carpenter told investigators. “Lokie had come to me and he said, ‘Rock, you know they’re offering a lot of money for Ghost.’”
Carpenter was sentenced to 14 years in prison last week for her role in organizing the scheme. Begay and Meyers both pleaded guilty to their supporting roles in the operation, and Begay has been sentenced to 11 years in prison. Meyers is set to be sentenced later this week.
Velazquez, who has also been found guilty, is set to be sentenced on January 11.