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Man accused of threatening couple over missing tractor-trailer with cash hidden inside

Woman passes note to bank teller to say she's being threatened, police say

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PALMETTO BAY, Fla. – A man from Port Hueneme, California, was arrested Monday after he threatened to kill a South Florida couple over money he believes they owe him, authorities said.

According to an arrest report, Jesus Soto Garcia, 35, and another Hispanic man went to the couple's home in Cutler Bay on Saturday, and Garcia told the couple that they owed him $23,000 and he would kill them if they didn't pay up.

Police said the couple had never seen Garcia before, but he claimed that a tractor-trailer one of the victim's dispatched from her trucking company never arrived to its destination in Dallas.

Police said Garcia claimed the tractor-trailer was filled with flowers and $250,000 in cash that was hidden inside.

In fear for their lives, the couple told Garcia that all they could do was transfer $2,000 to an account of his choosing until Monday when banks are open, the report said.

Police said Garcia told them he would return to their home Monday to accompany them to the bank, and that they and their family members would be killed if police were called.

Garcia also took the couple's Lexus as collateral until they could give him the remaining $21,000 he was demanding, police said.

According to the report, both men went to the couple's home Monday and followed them to a Wells Fargo Bank branch at 17401 SW 97th Ave. in Palmetto Bay and instructed only the woman to go inside the bank to withdraw the money.

Police said the woman handed a bank teller a note in Spanish that read, "Help me. I am being threatened. They are waiting for that money outside."

Bank employees called 911 and Garcia was taken into custody. He faces multiple charges, including kidnapping, false imprisonment, grand theft and robbery/carjacking.

Police said Garcia refused to make any statements to detectives.

Police are still searching for the other man, who was driving a Kia. He is described as a heavy-set Hispanic man with a goatee and neck tattoos.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS.

About the Author:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.