Toronto boy found safe after abduction over unpaid drug debt

March 6, 2020 GMT

TORONTO (AP) — A 14-year-old Canadian boy was abducted on his way to school as retribution for a big “cocaine heist” allegedly staged by his stepbrother, but the teen was freed more than a day later after discussions with his abductors, police said late Thursday.

Toronto police said in a statement that the boy was being taken for a medical checkup and more details would be released Friday.

Police Supt. Steve Watts earlier said an alert was issued after people reported hearing Shammah Jolayemi crying for help as he was forced into a vehicle near his home around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The alert was sent late Wednesday to the phones of people across Ontario, which is Canada’s most populous province.

Police said there was then communication from his alleged abductors.

Watts said that while the teen’s stepbrother is suspected of involvement in high-level drug trafficking, Shammah himself had no such connection.

Investigators said the teen was heard screaming ``Help me, help me″ as he was forced into a Jeep Wrangler. Watts said a burned-out vehicle found near the town of Caledon, northwest of Toronto, was believed to be that vehicle.

Watts said police launched an investigation because of the reports, but the incident was not connected to an alleged abduction until the teen’s parents reported him missing shortly after 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The boy’s high school failed to notify his family of his day-long absence because his teachers missed an attendance reporting deadline, the Toronto District School Board said. Spokesman Ryan Bird said four staff members at Newtonbrook Secondary School had been put on ``home assignment.″

Watts provided few details about the drug theft that allegedly triggered Shammah’s abduction, but said it occurred last summer and involved approximately 100 kilograms of cocaine.

He said the boy’s stepbrother is though to have fled the Toronto area after the drugs were taken. He said officers had since made contact with the stepbrother and he is co-operating with investigators.