Now, law enforcement closed the net. It obtained warrants for the locations in South and North Carolina and, at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, the FBI’s elite hostage rescue team stormed a home in Roseboro, N.C., where they found ES and arrested Fuentes-Morales and two alleged accomplices, Ruben Ceja-Rangel and Luis Castro Villeda.
The complex, international case ended up drawing a massive law enforcement response.
“The cooperation among federal, local and state law enforcement agencies and across state lines was nothing short of incredible throughout this investigation," David Thomas, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Columbia, S.C., field office, said in a statement after the arrests. "The attention and resources contributed to this investigation should send a strong message that the FBI and its partners will not tolerate the kidnapping of American citizens."
Extensive resources were sent to the Charlotte and Columbia FBI field offices by FBI headquarters, including the Hostage Rescue Team, a highly trained group of special agents often called upon to respond to an extraordinary crisis. Crisis negotiators, multiple FBI SWAT teams, evidence response teams, analysts, technical specialists and other personnel were also sent to assist.
The suspects made an initial appearance this morning at the federal courthouse in Raleigh, N.C., and will be transferred to South Carolina to stand trial.
The only mystery left in this case was what really happened to that 200 pounds of marijuana: If ES was involved, was he ripped off or did he steal the grass himself? The FBI said the investigation into that aspect of the case was “ongoing.”
ABC News' James Hill contributed to this report.