BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A Baltimore man faces federal charges in the death of an alleged drug trafficker from California who was kidnapped and held for ransom before he was shot and set on fire, according to court documents.
Ziyon Thompson, 21, is charged with use of a firearm resulting in death in relation to a drug trafficking crime, interference with commerce by extortion, drug conspiracy and related charges.READ MORE: Hogan Orders Suspension Of Maryland's 'Good & Substantial Reason' Requirement For Concealed Carry Permits
Miguel Soto Diaz, 35, was a suspected marijuana trafficker from California who had traveled to Baltimore to negotiate drug deliveries to the city, according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant filed Monday by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. His body was discovered May 8 as firefighters put out a fire at what was believed to be an unoccupied home in the 300 block of Furrow Street, authorities said.
Court documents allege that on May 8, Thompson kidnapped Diaz, who was one of three people he conspired with in California to traffic large quantities of marijuana from California to Maryland.
Diaz had traveled to Maryland to meet with Thompson for a meeting. Thompson allegedly FaceTimed one of the Diaz’ associates in California, filmed the Diaz, who was bound and gagged, and demanded 200 pounds of marijuana and $50,000 for his safe return.READ MORE: East Baltimore Sinkhole Prompts City To Shut Down Part Of North Avenue Until Further Notice
Court documents allege that after not receiving the ransom, Thompson shot Diaz, killing him. Firefighters found a gas can and shell casings at the Furrow Street house, and the Baltimore Fire Department the fire was intentionally set.
The Department of Justice said if convicted, Thompson faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for interference with commerce by extortion and for the drug conspiracy, and a mandatory minimum of 10 years and up to life in federal prison for use of a firearm resulting in death during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime.
A WJZ investigation found that the owner of the Furrow Street house had been trying to evict squatters for months. A judge eventually ordered the eviction of the squatters in April, but more than two weeks passed, and the sheriff’s office—backlogged with cases—was unable to carry it out before the fire.MORE NEWS: Maryland Weather: Storm Threat Triggers Alert Day