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Men lured to Plant City home by Facebook post before being 'viciously tortured,' police say

Victims forced to go into ATMS, take out all money
Posted: 11:10 AM, Aug 22, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-23 15:44:34-04
Men lured to Plant City home by Facebook post before being 'viciously tortured,' police say

PLANT CITY, Fla. — Five people are behind bars after police say they lured victims via Facebook post to a Plant City home where they were then robbed, beaten and kidnapped the victims. One man was still on the run initially but was arrested the next day.

Plant City Police Department arrested Thomas Nolasco, Joshua Rodriguez, Melissa Long and Carina Bailon in connection to the luring. According to a search warrant, the victims were beaten, robbed and kept overnight against their will.

ABC Action News obtained exclusive video of a SWAT raid at the home.

"Just shock -- wait what? it’s hard to fathom this is happening at one of your next door neighbor’s houses," said a neighbor too frightened to show her face.

According to Plant City Police at least four men were lured to the home in the 900 block of W. Risk St. in mid-June under the guise of socializing with an attractive woman. When they arrived the woman met them in the driveway and escorted them inside. Then the victims were robbed and “viciously tortured” and beaten. Investigators say they were beaten, kicked and pistol whipped overnight. A suspect burned one victim on his head and legs then shaved the victim's hair and eyebrows.

Investigators say the victims were held against their will. The suspects threatened to kill the victims' families if they didn’t cooperate and took pictures of their IDs. The suspects then forced the victims into their cars and made them take out money from various bank accounts via ATM machines.

Mark Dunnam, a lead detective tells ABC Action News this case stands out.

“It surprised everyone when we started investigating this. The more you got into it the more heinous and awful it was," he said, "I just think they have no moral compass and they just didn’t care about what they were doing or the people they were doing this to.”

When the suspects allegedly took all their money, they dumped the victims, but kept their cars, money and cell phones.

What's more Dunnam says Nolasco and Rodriguez are part of the Sur 13 gang.

Plant City PD need help finding a fifth suspect identified as 19-year-old James T. Smith. He’s got an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

The warrant says Nolasco spoke to Long from the jail phone. The calls were recorded. The documents say Nolasco contacted Long from another inmate’s account “thinking he could speak freely.” It says they discussed the kidnapping case thoroughly over several days.

During one of the conversations Long states the police left with numerous items of evidence that she disposed of already. She tells Nolasco the police have several phones as evidence. She asks Nolasco what videos were on the phone.

When he asks which one she replies “the videos that would [expletive] make their day.” Nolasco tells her “No, I never recorded none of that.” Long tells him, “You did though, there’s videos in that phone.”

Plant City PD found numerous phones in the home including a Samsung identified by the suspects in their jail conversation to potentially have incriminating videos.

The suspects face numerous charges including armed kidnapping, robbery, aggravated battery with great bodily harm, grand theft motor vehicle.