Two men are accused of impersonating police officers in a violent kidnap-for-robbery scheme, which they were apparently coerced into by a woman who has been arrested in connection with the plot, the Santa Ana Police Department announced on Wednesday.
Dressed in security officers’ uniforms and carrying replica guns (pictured below), José Fernando Paredes, 26, and another man claimed to be Ontario police officers when they allegedly attacked Rosa Tinoco’s ex-boyfriend, officials said.
Paredes was arrested Feb. 8 and Tinoco, 36, was arrested Feb. 12, at their separate homes. A third man is wanted in connection with the attack.
"We got information through an informant that Jose was claiming Rosa was the mastermind and convinced him by paying him to do this," said Anthony Bertagna, spokesman for the Santa Ana Police Department.
"We believe, because it was so fruitful for them with regards to getting money that she was lacking, that she masterminded this," he said.
The man who allegedly helped Paredes attack the victim is still at large, police said.
The pair carried badges around their necks and drove a 2007 charcoal gray Dodge Charger that resembled a police car, officials said.
They allegedly posed as police from Ontario, a city in San Bernardino County, when they attacked the victim in Santa Ana, which is in Orange County.
Paredes and the other man allegedly kidnapped the victim, took him 100 yards away by force and robbed him. They also used a stun gun to lower him to the ground before beating him with a baton, Bertagna said.
At the time of the attack, Paredes was dating Tinoco’s younger sister, who is currently in Mexico, Bertagna said. The group may have been using the scheme to raise money to send to Tinoco’s sister, he added.
Paredes was supplied a Taser through his job as a security guard in Anaheim Hills, Bertagna said.
Paredes and Tinoco face charges including kidnapping with intent of robbery and robbery. Bertagna said more charges may follow.
They are being held in lieu of $1 million bail and is awaiting a court date.
Police are searching for another man in connection with the alleged scheme, which spanned from December 2012 to Feb. 8, authorities said.
He is described as Hispanic, in his 20s, 5 feet 6 inches tall and 170 pounds. He may be a security guard, Bertagna said.
Anyone with information about potential victims or the wanted man is asked to call 714-245-8545.
NOTE: An earlier version of this article reported that Rosa Tinoco posed as a security guard during the alleged attack. Police said she is suspected of orchestrating the scheme, but is not accused of participating in the attack.