Woodside man kidnapped and held ransom in Sunnyside torture chamber

Sunnyside torture chamber

38-09 43rd Avenue

May 23, By Christian Murray

Sunnyside, Queens: The horror movie played out in a Sunnyside warehouse.

In April, a Woodside resident was walking down Roosevelt Avenue and was picked up off the street by three men and held in a de facto torture chamber in Sunnyside for over a month, according to the Queens District Attorney.

Pedro Portugal, 52, was forced into a sports utility vehicle and was then carted off to a warehouse located at 38-09 43rd Avenue, where the men were holding him for a $3 million ransom.

Portugal was held into a small room at the Sunnyside warehouse from April 18, 2013, until May 20, 2013, during which time a group of masked males burned his hand with acid, threatened to cut off his fingers and kill him. They punched him in the face and body, causing him to lose teeth and suffer multiple bruises, swelling and substantial pain to his face and body, according to the District Attorney.

One of the men allegedly then ordered Portugal to call his mother in Ecuador and request $3 million in ransom from her, which would be delivered to a person named “Tito.”

“This is a terrifying story of a businessman allegedly being forcibly abducted off the streets of Queens County in broad daylight and being beaten and held against his will,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown.

Pedro Portugal, 52, was initially approached on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights by Eduardo Moncayo, who called out Portugal’s name and displayed what appeared to be a New York City Police Department badge.

It is alleged that Moncayo and an unapprehended man grabbed Portugal by his shoulders and forced him into the vehicle.  Once inside the vehicle, Moncayo and two unapprehended men punched Portugal in the face and body and placed a mask over his face to obstruct his vision.

As Portugal entered the vehicle, one of the men lifted Portugal’s shirt, held a knife to his stomach and ordered him not to move or else he would be stabbed.  When the vehicle then allegedly proceeded to drive off, Portugal’s leg was allegedly hanging outside the vehicle.

The district attorney has brought charges against Moncayo, 38, of 700 New York Avenue, Lyndhurst, New Jersey; as well as two other men. They are Christian Acuna, 35, of 108-27 38th Avenue in Corona; and Dennis Alves, 32, of 24-16 84th Street in East Elmhurst.

The police discovered Portugal on May 20, 2013, when a detective entered the Sunnyside warehouse and observed Portugal with his hands bound with cloth.

The police observed Christian Acuna fleeing the warehouse and apprehended him on the corner of Skillman Avenue and 39th Street.

Acuna and defendant Dennis Alves kept watch of Portugal at the warehouse during the day while the Moncayo watched him during the night.

In statements made to police, Acuna said Alves  hired him to watch Portugal at the warehouse for $800 per week.

Alves allegedly told police, “I didn’t treat him bad. I told him it was just business.”

The three defendants are presently awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court on criminal complaints charging them with first- and second-degree kidnapping and first-degree unlawful imprisonment.  If convicted, the defendants each face up to 25 years to life in prison.


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40 Responses to Woodside man kidnapped and held ransom in Sunnyside torture chamber

  1. 86Mets

    Absolutely horrifying.

  2. anonymous


  3. Craic Dealer

    uuuhhh... wtf is this?! Mexico?

  4. Joe

    This is when you need the death penalty in NY. For scum like this.

  5. Thomster

    Look at the people involved, is anyone suprised? Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico, what's the difference. This is how these people operate.

  6. Oppressed Masses

    Didn't anyone in the warehouse notice this guy walking/standing around with his hands tied up? If a police detective walking by could see this, why didn't anyone else over the month's time notice?

  7. Krissi

    Omg, terrifying. I'm happy to hear he was found safe though. Thank goodness for small miracles.

    And this: "In statements made to police, Acuna said Alves hired him to watch Portugal at the warehouse for $800 per week."


  8. Heartbroken

    The inexcusably racist comments aside (@Thomster) this is absolutely terrible news. That poor man!

  9. MBon47

    this is good reporting

  10. DC

    Where does Sunnyside officially end and Long Island City begin? For the area north of Queens Blvd I personally believe that west of 39th Street should be considered Long Island City or at least "LIC East." It is an industrial quarter that is not characteristic of Sunnyside. South of Queens Blvd is another story as residential home extend as far west as 37th Street. I know this is a minor point but the report from ABC News labels this happening in Long Island City and our Sunnyside Post labels it as Sunnyside. It occurred at a building resting on the corner of 38th Street and 43rd Avenue. As well, Sunnyside is routinely labeled as part of greater Long Island City. Regardless, it is horrific that something like this occurred a mere 4 blocks away from my apartment. I was just wondering if anyone else had a thought on the neighborhood's western border? For instance if you are getting off the subway at 33rd Street - Rawson are you in Long Island City, Sunnyside or both? Thank you

  11. Sunnii Dae

    "I didn't treat him bad. I told him it was just business."

  12. Claudia

    I pass in front of this building 5 days a week. I often catch myself wondering what really goes on inside this place as well as all the others in the avenue and surroundings. It is shocking and scary.

  13. Grimace

    If a passerby noticed this there is something fishy. I walk by there sometimes and the building is used to store food cards overnight. There's a lot of traffic in and out. There should be some serious questioning going on. Multiple people had to have seen something but for whatever reason kept their mouths shut.

  14. Sunnyside Hobo

    Thomster - horrible crimes, crazy stuff. Is it better than the Italians, Irish, Chinese, Arab. Crime is crime, evil has no face. Just be glad it's not you. Our community should pool in and heal and protect itself.

  15. AA

    DC. Who cared. Geez. Anyway horrible story.

  16. Krissi

    DC - Sunnyside's local group is called "The United 40's". Generally people consider 40th-50th street being Sunnyside with Northern Boulevard at North and the 51st Ave/LIE to the south. My address is Woodside (near Celtic Park) but I don't consider myself to be in Woodside at all.

    The "Industrial" area to the west is def Long Island City - which would include 33rd/Rawson stop.

  17. Anonymous

    So happy to hear this horrfic ordeal went on 3 blocks away from my home. Scary mary.

  18. I hate chickens

    Technically Sunnyside is a town within Long Island City. All neighborhoods which start with the zip code 111 are all part of Long Island City as per USPS

  19. Oppressed Masses

    The NY Times has the conclusion of the release of the kidnapped individual as follows:

    Mr. Portugal’s 32-day ordeal ended Monday when police officers posing as building inspectors raided the warehouse, freeing Mr. Portugal, a 52-year-old Queens businessman, the authorities said in a detailed statement released on Wednesday.

  20. O'shea

    Everyone is a businessman. What did the kidnapped do for business? What made him stick out to warrant a 3million ranson?
    The nypd detective noticed it because this is one of their methods....

  21. Krissi

    I hate Chickens

    I didn't know that. Huh.

  22. Sycamore

    "Just business?" Lock 'em up, and never let them out. They are dangerous.

  23. Webley

    What's the background to this story?? How the hell did they come up with 3mil? Did they know each other, the thing is there must be something else going on.. Did he win lottery back home or something? The reason I am asking is, should anyone be worried they can be held for hostage or is it a targeted crime with some reason..

    WTF is happening in this area, we need more cops doing house calls to these "warehouses" in LIC area.

  24. Mr. Blonde

    I wonder if “Stuck in the Middle with You” was playing in the background.

  25. Nancy

    Wow! I walk past here twice a day going to and from work. It is scary to think what goes on in those buildings. The area along there is always busy in the mornings and afternoons so how come nobody saw anything?

  26. The_5_Foot0Gremlin

    I bet there are a ton of facts not known as to why this happened. What was he involved in? What kind of business? This reeks of some shady shit!

  27. 99 cent peetza hatr

    what is the likelihood of the mother of a guy named pedro portugal, living in Ecuador, having 3 mil?? who's buying this crap!!?? seriously....

    Were there no trust fund hipsters walking the streets the could pick up, their parents are only in Westchester, cheaper call and they got cash.

    I don't believe it.

  28. Chris

    The great 108 pct takes months again to find so

  29. Anonymous

    After the kidnapping in Cleveland, why wasn't this bigger news?? This is 4 blocks from my front door! Crazy!!

  30. Oppressed Masses

    From today's Daily News:
    Regular food deliveries to a Queens warehouse tipped off cops that a band of kidnappers was holding an accountant hostage there, police said.

    I wonder where they were ordering from? The first correct answer will get a pair of tickets on me to the opening day ceremonies for the Van Bramer Dog Oasis.

  31. kenoli

    why is this not bigger news?

  32. Anonymous

    I can't believe that this happened! What surprises me is that no one spoke up. If someone would have spoke up, then this would be done quick rather than long. God gave us mouths so we can speak. There's no shame of speaking up for someone who might need help or assistance.

    P.S.: Sunnyside is its own neighborhood and not part of Long Island City, with 39th Street to the west, 50th Street to the east, Barnett Avenue to the north, and 51st Avenue to the south. Plus, the warehouse is actually in Long Island City since it's next to 39th Street.


    how in the world did these people get a hold of a police badge? Now how can I trust a plain clothes police officer? I wouldnt thats how.

  34. Sunnyside Native

    Leave it to the ever inconsiderate & insensitive Oppressed Masses to insert a joke in here, in light of he hellish ordeal that this poor man was forced to endure. Sad Oppressed Masses. Go play with your pet pigeon. We saw you at the park on Monday. At least you care about birds, in particular your pet pigeon, so we know you have a heart.

  35. Sycamore

    Women are lured into sex slavey all over the world and many are held in Jackson Heights. I wouldn't doubt they are are in Woodside, Sunnyside and LIC, (remember the charges against the owner of that hell hole, Gallagher's) but that doesn't make headlines anywhere.

    Why isn't that very big news with public outcries against kidnapping, torture, slavery, discrimination and hate crimes against women?

    Because we are hypocrites, that's why.

  36. Anonymous

    Was he gay activist friend of JVB? No? Just a Hispanic guy?

    Moving on then.

  37. Oppressed Masses

    Native, what joke? I'm trying to promote community interest in this heinous crime that occurred right in our midst and you attack me! Oh wait, I Did mention the dog park and that is a joke, using our money to create an apartheid village in the middle of Lodati Park. Have you stopped to think that if Lodati wasn't closed to build the dog oasis, the young men involved with this crime likely would have been spending their day recreating in Lodati playing soccer or equaball, expending time and energy in healthy activities and not involved with kidnapping?

  38. Anonymous

    These artificial boundaries of LIC,Sunnyside, and Woodside are merely creations of the Post Office. Celtic Park, in the middle of Sunnyside, has its zip code designated as 11377, Woodside. We are 48th - 50th Avenue, and 44th to 42nd Street. If I get a package, I have to go to the 61st street PO to pick it up, as they do not consider us to be part of Sunnyside.

  39. Rick Duro

    Apartheid? Let's change OM's name to "Capt. Propaganda".

    SUDS, and its Dog Run, have/will be filled with people from ALL walks of life. Unlike your Cave, which only seems to have room for you, as who would want to occupy the same space w/ an ogre like you?

    We will indeed be sending you an invite, but as I doubt you could ever achieve 'plus 1', it'll be just a single ticket. Put on your sunglasses, it'll be open in June, lots of sunlight, I know you don't get much in your cave.


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The LIRR was forced to suspend eastbound service from Penn Station, except for the Port Washington Branch, for about an hour.


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‘The Good Wife’ to film in Sunnyside Tuesday

GoodwifeSept. 29, By Christian Murray

Several Sunnyside streets will be taken over Tuesday to make way for “The Good Wife.”

The CBS show, which has received widespread acclaim, will be shooting on Skillman Avenue (between 48th and 49th Streets), as well as on 48th Street (btw. 43rd and Barnett Avenues) and 49th Street (between Skillman and Barnett). Vehicles parked on these streets Tuesday are likely to be towed.

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The series was partly inspired by the Eliot Spitzer prostitution scandal, as well as by other prominent political sex scandals, particularly those of John Edwards and Bill Clinton.

The show, which premiered in 2009, has won five Emmys.

Film crew getting ready for shoot on Skillman Avenue

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Town hall meetings scheduled this week, with advice provided on snagging an affordable unit on LIC waterfront


Sept. 28, By Christian Murray

Sunnyside and Woodside residents will get their chance to learn how to apply for an affordable rental unit on the Long Island City waterfront this week.

The application period to snag an apartment in the Hunters Point South complex is expected to begin shortly and Community Board 2 leaders—along with the development company– will be holding two meetings this week telling residents how to apply,

The applicants will be aiming to get one of the 925 affordable apartments that are expected to be completed early next year.

The first meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 29, at the Sunnyside Community Services Center at 7pm. A second meeting will be held at the Big Six Towers on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 7 pm.

Community Board 2 residents—who currently live in Sunnyside, Woodside and Long Island City—will be given priority over outside applicants on 50% of the units.

The income requirements are broad and tailored more toward middle income earners. For example, units have been set aside for individuals/families who make very little to those who make up to $190,000, based on numbers released last year by the Bloomberg administration.

For details on the meetings, see below:

HPS Town Halls Flyer 091714-1

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Sunnyside Restaurant Week kicks off October 20, more than 30 restaurants participating
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Recently-opened Blu Orchid part of Sunnyside Restaurant Week

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Sunnyside’s second annual restaurant week is scheduled to take place next month and 32 restaurants have already signed up to participate.

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The event begins on Oct. 20 and concludes on Friday, Oct. 24.

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Venturo, Salt & Fat win coveted ‘Bib Gourmand’ award

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Sunnyside Farmers Market1

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The petition has recently gone online and can be found by clicking on this link:

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Van Bramer’s hit-and-run bill is passed by the city council
Van Bramer, xxx , Melissa Mark Viverto (Source:  Bill Alatriste)

Van Bramer, Martha Puruncajas , Melissa Mark Viverito (Source: Bill Alatriste)

Sept. 24, By Christian Murray

The city council passed legislation yesterday that would fine drivers who flee the scene of an accident up to $10,000.

The Council voted 49-0 in favor of the legislation that was introduced by Jimmy Van Bramer following three hit-and-run deaths that have occurred in Western Queens in the past year.

“I am proud to have sponsored Intro 371, the ‘Justice for Hit and Run Victims Act,’” Van Bramer said in a statement. “I was moved to introduce this bill in response to the death of three people who were killed in my district by drivers who fled the scene.”

Last September, Luis Bravo, 19, was killed crossing Broadway in Woodside. Meanwhile, Karen Pheras, 20, was struck and killed around the same time crossing Queens Plaza North. Then in March, Kumar Ragunath, 64, was killed crossing Northern Boulevard in Long Island City.

“They all lost their lives because of the unconscionable actions of reckless drivers who showed no concern for the lives of these three people,” Van Bramer said. “We will never know if one or all of them could have been saved had the drivers done the right thing: stopped their car and called 911.”

All three drivers have yet to be caught.

“It’s something you never get over,” said Bravo’s mother, Martha Puruncajas, at a recent council hearing.”The pain is unbearable, the pain stays,” she said, adding that she hopes stiffer penalties would prevent future tragedies.

Under the bill, those who leave the scene of an incident without taking action would be subject to pay a civil penalty of up to $500 if property damage stems from the incident; $1,000 to $2,000 if a person is injured; and $2,000 to $10,000 if there is serious injury or death.

Currently there are no “civil” penalties in New York City if someone flees.

Criminal penalties are determined by the state lawmakers.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the bill into law. The law would take effect ninety days after he signs it.

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Sunnyside Street co-named after famous sporting arena

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Members of the Ring 8 Boxing Association, a group for retired boxers, unveiled the new street sign along with Dave Diamante, the official announcer at the Barclays Center, and Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

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The arena was where Gerry Cooney launched his professional career, Edebolhs said. Cooney would go on to fight Larry Holmes in 1982 for the heavyweight title. Cooney lost.

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Sunnyside Gardens Arena

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Irish Music Festival to hit Boulevard on Saturday, wounded veterans to benefit
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Sept. 22, By Michael Florio

Eleven bars and restaurants—known as Sunnyside’s Boulevard Bars–are teaming up to host an Irish music festival this Saturday.

The eleven establishments, which are located on or near Queens Blvd, are hosting the 2nd annual Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day music festival.

The event will kick off at 6 pm, Sept. 27, with live music and drink specials at every participating bar.

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There will be live music, dancing, bagpipers and DJs. There will also be authentic Irish meals, such as Bar 43’s Irish festival menu, which will consist of Irish beef stew, Irish style fish and chips and an all day Irish breakfast.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to wounded veterans who are currently being treated at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Participating bars include, The Courtyard Ale House, Bar 43, McGuinness’s Saloon, PJ Horgan’s, Molly Blooms, Jack’s Fire Dept., Bliss Street Station, Arriba Arriba, The Gaslight, Sidetracks, and Maggie Mae’s.

The event will be the Boulevard of Bars’ sixth major event in the past two years. So far, it has raised more than $25,000 for charities and local organizations.

Music Lineup - Boulevard Bars-1


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