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Ex-Tijuana cop allegedly plotted kidnapping of wealthy O.C. family's child [Updated]

March 31, 2010 |  2:45 pm

A onetime Tijuana police officer was arrested on suspicion of plotting to kidnap the child of a wealthy Orange County family, authorities said.

Authorities said the suspect, Cesar Ariel Zapata-Landeros, told an informant that he had planned the kidnapping, going as far as to rent a storage garage where he claimed he would keep the child, according to court records unsealed Wednesday.Cesar Ariel Zapata-Landeros, suspect in Orange County kidnap-for-ransom plot.

Federal prosecutors allege that Zapata-Landeros intended to run the mother's car off the road in the Tustin Hills area as she took her children to school. He told the informant he would then demand a $300,000 ransom, threatening to cut off two of the child's fingers and send them to the family if they refused to pay.

He also told the informant he had done security work for the family in the past. The name of the family was not provided in court records, and Zapata-Landeros could not be reached for comment.

The FBI conducted the investigation with the Westminster Police Department. Westminster officers and FBI agents arrested Zapata-Landeros on March 16 about 100 yards from the potential victim's home. The suspect was charged in federal court with solicitation to commit kidnapping for ransom.

[Updated at 3:59 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the arrest was made about 100 miles from the potential victim's home.]

-- Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Cesar Ariel Zapata-Landeros. Credit: FBI