Florida Man Faked Cartel Kidnapping to Extort Wife to Fuel Drug Habit, Be with Another Woman

Eric Paul Johnson
Eric Paul Johnson Facebook

A Melbourne, Florida, man who pretended he was kidnapped by the drug cartel allegedly extorted his wife of over $71,000 in support of his drug habit, arrest records show.

According to Fox 35 Orlando, Eric Paul Johnson, 29, was reported missing by his wife in December 2023 after believing he was being held for ransom by the Mexican Cartel.

Johnson's Wife Told Her He Owed Money to the Cartel Over a Drug Bust

His wife told detectives the two met in 2020 and got married in January 2023. They had planned a large wedding for January 2024. She said Johnson had previously told her he had been involved in a drug cartel before they met and he had a $60,000 drug shipment intercepted, which he owed them money for.

Johnson had gone missing on a couple of occasions two or three months prior and she paid money to her husband's CashApp account so he could be released and he returned home about an hour later, the affidavit said.

'Send Me 600 Now or Your Husband's Throat is Peeled'

As reported by Law & Crime, some of the messages Johnson's wife received read, "You have 10 minutes to send 600 dollars to your husbands cash app for him messing up my business...I'm sure he has said it was over many times but this is his last payment...If it isn't sent things happen."

She received similar messages in October and December. One of them said: "500 now or buenas nochas." Another read, "Better send that 500 now or he won't make it to the wedding." Then: "Last one I'm absolutely positive it is....but send me 600 now or your husband's throat is peeled."

Johnson went missing again on Dec. 12 with his alleged kidnappers saying they were driving around in his car. His wife pleaded with the "abductors" to let him go and asked to speak to Johnson. "Can you just tell me if he's ok please? He's the only family I have," she said in one of the messages she sent them.

His wife apparently sent money but Johnson never came home on Dec. 14. Over the course of the next three months she kept transferring funds over 50 times until she only had "$1.71 to her name," the affidavit said. She then reached out to the police for help. She told cops she didn't go to authorities before because she was scared for his safety.

However, investigators were quick to figure out that the kidnapping was a hoax and Johnson had orchestrated the whole thing to fuel his drug habit and be with another woman.

Johnson Admitted the Kidnapping was a Hoax, Said He Used the Money to Buy Cocaine

Detectives determined the phone number in which the texts extorting money actually belonged to Johnson. They also viewed street cameras that showed the car he was supposed to be held captive in traveling around Brevard County with only the driver inside, the affidavit said.

On Dec. 14, the surveillance spotted Johnson driving in Melbourne and cops performed a traffic stop on the vehicle. They took him in for questioning. In an interview with detectives, he admitted the whole kidnapping was a ruse to get his wife to send him money.

He said he used the money his wife gave him to buy cocaine. Officers found a small amount of cocaine and a crack pipe in the car, the affidavit said. He also was knowingly driving on a suspended license, cops said. He was arrested on drug possession charges but bonded out as cops continued to investigate his alleged kidnapping scheme.

Johnson Sexted Other Women, was with Another Woman When he was Supposedly Missing

A review of his phone also revealed that he was sexting with other women at the time he was supposedly missing. Between Dec. 12 and Dec. 14 he drove to be with another woman, the affidavit said. He also told cops he was never part of the cartel.