A Bakersfield family was held at gunpoint, kidnapped and robbed of a truck in a drug-plagued region of Mexico. Then, in a twist of events, that same stolen truck ended up in a deadly shootout last week.
"We're praying so that God may change the mind of these people. So that it stops because we are not the only ones. There are probably a lot of people that do not have the same opportunity like us to be talking about it." Maria Ocampo leans on her faith as she describes how she and her family were robbed at gunpoint December 27 and survived.
It happened in Jalisco, the west central state described in Mexican media as a battleground between drug cartels. Maria's husband, Petronile Rangel, was behind the wheel of a Ford pickup when the family was boxed in by a series of vehicles on a narrow highway. A group of armed men jumped out.
"They told him to get down and he didn't want to get out so they hit him with the weapon. When he got out, the driver of the vehicle took possession of our truck," said Maria Campo.
But their ordeal documented in a police report wasn't over yet. Standing next to Maria outside the truck was her 12-year-old son.
"The one they wanted to hurt was my son. They told me let us beat him up and I told them please not to hurt him, that they were all my kids. In that moment I felt something very ugly was going to happen," said Maria Campo. "I told them I am here, here I am. Hurt me, not them."
The armed men then marched them to a nearby hill. "They got us down they tied us up they told us not to turn to watch. They left us face-down all tied up. And after they left they took the truck and all our things. My son untied himself first and untied everybody else."
The local connection to this international crime might have gone unnoticed. But on Friday seven people were killed in Jalisco when investigators say gunmen in one vehicle opened fire on the Rangel's stolen pickup truck that was being escorted by two men on motorcycles.
The truck plunged into a ravine. Police recovered several weapons at the scene including grenades. One of our eagle-eyed viewers noticed the local Jim Burke Ford license plate frame in the video.
Petrolino Rangel is a religious man, a pastor at in the pentecostal church. He says the sermon he delivered to his captors that day just may have saved his family. "I told them to think about doing good and it is better to be just. And I told them there is a God, that loves us. And they told me to shut up, to stop talking."