A federal grand jury has indicted two fugitives who allegedly kidnapped a fellow Chinese national living in Santa Ana and tried to collect $2 million in ransom from the victim’s family, although authorities believe he later died and was buried in the Mojave desert.
Guangyao Yang, 25, and Peicheng Shen, 33, whose last known U.S. residences were in West Covina, were charged in the indictment returned Feb. 22 with conspiracy to kidnap, kidnapping, attempted extortion in violation of the Hobbs Act as well as threat by foreign communication.
Shen is accused of having used alias when meeting the unnamed victim several times, under the pretense that the defendant would help the man collect a debt from someone else, according to court documents.
During their third meeting at a San Gabriel shopping center on July 16, 2018, Shen allegedly kidnapped the man and, along with Yang, held him hostage in a closet at a house in Corona, where the victim’s eyes were taped shut, legs were bound together and arms were restrained behind his back.
The following day, the victim’s father received photographs of his son in the closet and a demand for a $2 million ransom to be deposited into three Chinese bank accounts within three hours or the victim would be killed, the court documents allege.
“Investigators believe the victim died during the course of the kidnapping, and they are seeking the public’s assistance in locating his body,” reads a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The indictment alleges that on July 18, Shen and Yang drove to the Mojave area to bury or otherwise dispose of the victim’s body and/or other physical evidence involved in the crime.
That same day, it is further alleged, Shen had the closet of the Corona house re-carpeted, and Yang searched the Internet to determine how fast a corpse decomposes in soil.
A conviction on the charges could send Shen and Yang to a federal prison for more than 40 years, but both are believed to be in China, according to authorities.
The FBI, which is heading the investigation, asks anyone with information about the suspects and/or the whereabout of the victim to call the Los Angeles Field Office at 310.477.6565.
Wanted posters of the defendants follow …
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.