Immigrants Deported After Kidnapping Hoax

A Connecticut family made up claims that it rescued three immigrant relatives from a kidnapper by showing up with baseball bats at a ransom exchange meeting, according to police reports.

Instead, the reports say, the family had arranged transportation to Connecticut for their relatives after they entered the country illegally, and a melee broke out when a driver asked for an additional fee of $60 per person to bring them to the family's home.

Greenwich Officer Martin O'Reilly wrote in a report that a federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent told him that "the entire kidnapping story was completely fabricated." The report was obtained by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers through a public records request.

Police say they detained nearly 20 people after the Aug. 2 fight in a Greenwich shopping center parking lot.

The three illegal immigrants were identified as Antonio Gonzales, Nicolas Gonzales-Ceron and Ramon Hermelindo. Their family members in Willimantic, about 90 miles from Greenwich, told police the immigrants were their cousins who had been kidnapped from Texas.

Police say the relatives claimed the kidnappers demanded $2,500 for each of their cousins, and the family had arranged to meet with the captors to pay the ransom.

Police reports also show that immigration authorities issued a bulletin earlier on the day of the fight to inform local police to watch for a large blue van from Texas because passengers were being held hostage and abused.

A Greenwich police spokesman referred to questions Monday to a department records supervisor, who was off for Columbus Day, and federal immigration officials.

Messages were left Monday for Paula Grenier, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Grenier told the Greenwich Time newspaper that there was no kidnapping, but agents are still investigating whether human smuggling was involved.

A police report says the three immigrants and the van driver were all in the country illegally. Grenier said three of the four were deported to Mexico and the fourth was deported to Guatemala.