Texas man bragged about stealing money from cartel. Now he’s missing, officials say

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A Texas man bragged about stealing money from a Mexican cartel and believed he was safe from retribution in the United States — but now he’s missing, according to the FBI.

Erik Tadeo Ramirez was last seen trying to escape from a moving pickup truck as it crossed the Juarez-Lincoln International Bridge in Laredo, Texas, according to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI.

A March 24 video recording captured a man with a bloodied face in the passenger seat of a blue Dodge Ram with several other men at 1:09 a.m. He opens the door and tries to jump out, but the men grab him and pull him back inside, officials said in the complaint.

The truck blows past the bridge attendant and heads into Mexico, leaving a blood-stained shirt and pair of pants along the road, according to the complaint.

Hours earlier, Ramirez was boastful, witnesses told investigators. They overheard him talking on the phone at 11 p.m. during a party at a home in Laredo, telling an unknown woman he’d stolen $50,000 from Cartel Del Noreste, according to documents.

He told the woman he wasn’t scared of her, that he didn’t fear retribution because he was in the United States, witnesses said.

But about two hours later, at 12:45 a.m., the blue truck arrived at the address. Masked men with guns got out, attacked Ramirez, dragged him into the cab and drove off, officials said in the documents.

Ramirez’s sister reported him missing to the Laredo Police Department, and the FBI quickly became involved.

Investigators identified the driver of the pickup truck as Jonathan Cavriales, and he was arrested March 27 when he tried to cross the border back into the U.S., documents said. The truck was registered to Cavriales’ mother, according to the FBI.

After the kidnapping, Cavriales stopped at his grandmother’s house in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, to rest, according to documents. While he slept, Cavriales’ grandmother called his mom in the U.S., concerned because he “did not look well, and something was wrong with (him).”

In an interview with investigators, Cavriales said he and three other men carried out Ramirez’ kidnapping and “that he was aware that (Ramirez) had stolen approximately $50,000 from Cartel Del Noreste,” officials said in the documents.

It’s not clear where Ramirez is now, but investigators are still searching for him.

“The FBI is aware of this incident, but is unable to provide comment on this ongoing investigation,” a Bureau spokesperson told McClatchy News in an email April 2. “The FBI relentlessly pursues all options when it comes to protecting the American people, and this doesn’t change when they are endangered across the border. The FBI pursues all cases with the same vigor and commitment to process.”

Anyone with information related to the case is asked to contact the FBI’s San Antonio Division at 210-225-6741.

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