Albuquerque, NM

New Mexico Teen Arrested in Botched Ransom Attempt That Ended in Murder of Kidnapping Victim's Brother

A.W. Naves

The suspect lured the kidnapping victim out using Snapchat

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Dukes and Avila Mugshots(Photo Credit: APD)

Anna Bella Dukes, an 18-year-old New Mexico woman has been arrested for her part in a scheme to lure 20-year-old Nicholas Otero to Alvarado Park with the intention of kidnapping and holding him hostage for ransom. In the course of the crime, Otero’s brother, 24-year-old Elias Otero, was killed. According to the Albuquerque Police Department, Dukes is charged with murder, kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery, and tampering with evidence.

Dukes allegedly used Snapchat to lure Nicholas Otero to a park on February 11, 2021. After his arrival, he was kidnapped by three men who drove him in his own car to his brother’s house in Albuquerque. They parked outside the home and held a gun on him while he was forced to contact his brother via FaceTime to demand $1,000. They said they would kill him if their demands weren’t met immediately.

Rather than giving in to their demands, Elias Otero, a former corrections officer, exited his home armed with a gun and confronted the kidnappers. He was shot by Dukes’ 17-year-old boyfriend, Adrian Avila. Avila turned himself in last month and faces identical charges to those of Dukes. Though Dukes was also charged for her part in the crime in December, she waited nearly a month before turning herself in on January 24, 2022.

Otero told investigators that he had messaged with Dukes on Snapchat, and they’d made plans to meet. He picked her up at the designated location and drove her to Alvarado Park in his red Lexus in the early morning hours of February 11. He said he’d grown suspicious of her when she began asking questions about where he kept his money and if he carried a gun. She’d also made a point of complimenting a diamond-encrusted chain he was wearing.

Though the red flags were raised, it wasn’t quite soon enough. While they sat in the car, another vehicle carrying three armed men boxed Otero in and dragged him from his car. One of them pointed a gun to his head while they took his money, credit cards, and jewelry. They then forced him back into his own car and drove him to his brother’s house to demand their ransom.

A sister of the Otero brothers called 911 at around 2:20 a.m. to request assistance. While Nicholas Otero escaped harm, his brother was pronounced dead at the scene.

Some of the suspects fled on foot, while others drove away in the car they’d taken to the park. Police say that the car had been reported stolen the day before from a victim that had also been lured out by Dukes on Snapchat.

Otero’s family has expressed relief to have Dukes and Avila behind bars. They hope to see the others involved in the crime arrested soon.

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