Police: Caller threatens to kill Moab man’s family, makes demands for ransom

Authorities suspect possible scam, reference to Mexican cartel

A local man told Moab City Police that his family is okay after receiving a phone call from a person claiming to be from a Mexican criminal group. The caller had named and threatened to kill the man’s ex-wife, kids and mother.

The caller told the man they were a “commander for the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación,” a Mexican criminal group headed by Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, also known as El Mencho, one of Mexico’s most-wanted drug lords.

During the phone call, which the man’s wife recorded and to which police later listened, the caller spoke in Spanish, naming the man’s ex-wife, children, mother, wife and stepson, the latter two of whom live in Moab. The person said they had located the children, mother and ex-wife in Mexico City.

The caller kept demanding the man tell him how much money he could give up, eventually saying he needed five million pesos, equivalent to about $250,000. The man said he could muster 5,000 pesos, or $250, and the person allegedly replied that he needed only to give the signal and they would decapitate the man’s mother.

The caller asked the man if he was still with his current wife, to which he lied and said no so as not to further implicate her into the situation.

The man told the caller it would take him about 40 minutes to transfer the money since he was in Monticello. According to police, the caller then switched to English and told the man he was giving the phone to his boss. The man said he was heading to a Moab store to transfer the money, and the person on the phone told him to call back.

After the caller hung up, the man said he tried five times to call back but did not receive any response. He called the Moab Multicultural Center, which advised him to contact the Protection Department of the Mexican Consulate. When the man did, he received no answer.

After reporting the call to Mexico City Police, the man said he knew a federal agent in Mexico City who lived a few houses away from his mother and that he would check on her. Later, he reported the incident to Moab City Police, saying he was worried for the family he had in town.

Moab police said they talked to the man about the possibility that the call was a scam, citing a few factors: The caller claimed to be a commander in the Mexican cartel but then had to hand the phone off to a boss, and the caller’s English sounded like it was their native language.

Moab police told the man they were taking the threat seriously and told him to call police immediately if he “saw anything weird or had any issues,” according to a police report. The man told police nothing had happened to his family and that he would continue checking in.

Police said they have no suspects or leads on the identity of the caller and that the man has since blocked the caller.