In an effort to recover allegedly stolen cocaine, dealers hold an elderly couple hostage.
In an effort to recover 50 kilograms of cocaine, a group of New York drug dealers reportedly kidnapped the grandparents of an affiliate and ferried them into Canada through a tribal reservation. They then held the couple hostage for two nights until they were able to be rescued, according to authorities.
The case against Graigory Brown, 50, of Plattsburgh, details a series of events that occurred in the attempt to obtain the drug stash, which had (unbeknownst to the kidnappers) already been seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Court records show just a few days before the Helms were kidnapped, their grandson, Macenzie Helm, 28, and his mother, Michelle Helm, were arrested in a sting operation in which they had been picking up 500 grams of cocaine. The kidnapping became evident when James Helm, 76, failed to show up for work on September 28 and one of his sons went to his parents’ house to check on them, finding the front door busted in.
Surveillance video recording near the residence showed a pickup truck, later identified as Brown’s, pulling into the driveway and a trace of Helm’s phone tracked the kidnappers’ steps as they made their way across the border. The son who reported the couple missing received a call from a man police have referred to as “Co-Conspirator A,” who said he had the Helms and wanted to exchange them for the cocaine the perpetrators indicated “Individual-1” had stolen. If the drugs could not be recovered, the man said they would accept $3.5 million in cash, the cocaine’s alleged value.
The couple’s son was allowed to speak briefly with one of his parents before the captor demanded that he put them in touch with another person, identified in the court document as Individual 1. In a second call, one of the captors again demanded the return of the cocaine, or the $3.5 million payment, from that person, who the captor said, “has our stuff.”
Around 8:43 p.m. on the 28th, the son received a text message from the captors that read, “Parents are sleeping. 12PM tomorrow trade for (individual 1).” A photograph depicting the elderly couple alive was then sent and subsequent calls specifying these demands followed, all of which allowed law enforcement to track the criminals. Officers also recognized the treeline in the background of the photograph. Through cellphone geolocation, they were able to find the couple at a house in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, the complaint said.
“The FBI, the New York State Police and the police in the Akwesasne and Mohawk tribal area took part in the investigation,” Antoinette T. Bacon, the acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of New York, reported. Audrey Roy Cloutier, a spokesperson for the Quebec prosecutor, confirmed the arrests, saying, “Brown and his co-conspirators put an elderly couple through a terrifying ordeal” and Moira Town Supervisor Justus Martin added, “They’re just trying to lay low and recover.”