BALTIMORE — A man found last month shot to death inside a burning vacant Baltimore rowhome, was a California marijuana dealer being held for ransom.
The new revelations were made in federal court documents charging Ziyon Isaiah Thompson in connection to the murder of Miguel Soto Diaz.
Prosecutors say the two men knew each other from past business dealings.
On May 8, Diaz was in town to discuss future drug deals with Thompson.
Around 9am that day, Thompson used a prepaid "burner" phone to video chat one of Diaz's associates in California.
Thompson allegedly showed Diaz bound in a chair with duct tape over his mouth and zip-ties on his hands and ankles.
He reportedly demanded that the associate send 200 pounds of marijuana and $50,000, in exchange for Diaz's release.
“Papi said send the bags and money so he can be ok and he said don’t call the police or he want [sic] be coming home. We had a long conversation. 200 bags and 50k," Thompson allegedly wrote in a text message to the associate.
Later that night, the associate messaged Thompson back threatening to call the feds.
Thompson responded with laughing emojis saying, "Y’all not even legal so if y’all coming with the Feds tell y’all sell weed.”
Investigators used facial recognition to confirm that Thompson was indeed who they were looking for.
Detectives found video of him buying and activating the "burner" phone at a store in Baltimore, just hours before Diaz arrived in town.
Diaz's charred body was discovered the next day, when crews were called to put out a vacant house fire at 325 Furrow Street.
Also inside the home was a gas can and 9mm shell casings, indicating the fire was intentionally set.
To find Thompson, ATF agents obtained a warrant to track another phone he was known to use.
Federal authorities concluded in charging documents that between April and May of 2022, Thompson participated in a conspiracy with Diaz and his associates to traffic large quantities of marijuana from California to Maryland.