Cole Puffinburger is safe and sound after being found Saturday night. Now the question, why did he disappear? Did it have something to do with his grandfather's alleged ties to a Mexican drug ring? That's why Puffinburger's grandfather and the grandfather's girlfriend, who was arrested Sunday night on a material-witness warrant, were in court Monday afternoon to answer to a federal judge.
The hearing was supposed to start at 3 p.m. Monday, but the judge was late taking the bench Monday afternoon.
Three days after his Riverside arrest, 51-year-old Clemons Tinnemeyer was in federal court. Sitting at his side was 42-year-old Terri Leavy, who police believe is Tinnemeyer's girlfriend. They're not being called suspects at this point; they were arrested on material-witness warrants.
Authorities want to find out what they know about Cole Puffinburger's disappearance last week. There is some thought that the child was abducted because Tinnemeyer owed a Mexican drug cartel millions of dollars.
"The focus now goes on to the drug dealing, to potential extortion issues," said Las Vegas Metro Police Captain Vincent Cannito.
Police say Tinnemeyer may have stolen millions of dollars from drug dealers involved in trafficking methamphetamine. They say the little boy's kidnapping could have been a message to the 51-year-old.
"There is a definite drug nexus," said Las Vegas Metro Police Captain Vincent Cannito. "We are very clear that Mr. Tinnemeyer was involved in drug activity. That has been established early on in this investigation. Large amounts of cash have been involved, as I told you the other night. Several search warrants were executed. Large amounts of cash were recovered during those search warrants and they occurred in several different jurisdictions. With that, the investigation will continue with regards to the activities not only in this jurisdiction but as well as others."
Puffinburger was dropped off unharmed late Saturday night in Las Vegas. He was spotted on a sidewalk by an on-duty bus driver, and that ended the largest Amber Alert search in Nevada history, and an emotional end to the search for everyone involved.
"He noticed that this was a very young boy in a dark place, at 10:30 p.m. at night and it just didn't seem right," said Jacob Snow, Regional Transportation Commission. " He seemed very calm, mentioned that he hadn't seen his mother in several days."
"One of the first things Cole did was grab onto the leg of one of the detectives that was there to say, 'We're here to help,' " said Capt. Cannito.
"Of course I feel really, really glad that everything came out OK for him and his family and everyone else that was worried what was happening with this little boy, and of course I celebrate with the family and all of you too," said Julio Diaz, the bus driver who found Cole Puffinburger.
Meanwhile, friends of the family are ready to welcome young Cole home. They say the most important thing is that he is safe.
"I just screamed out, I can't believe it! Thank you Jesus! He's alive!" said Jeanette Gaddy, a neighbor.
Authorities are still looking for Jesus Gastelum, a Mexican citizen who also goes by "Ferdinand Gastelum," in possible connection to the disappearance of the boy. Gastalume is in his 30s and could be in the Las Vegas or the Southern California areas. A third person is being sought by the FBI. Authorities have said that the third person is a possible accomplice from Mexico, who may be in the Las Vegas area.
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