Man sent to California from Czech Republic on kidnap, torture charges

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - A man accused of abducting a medical pot shop owner and joining others in torturing the man and severing his penis has been extradited to California from the Czech Republic to face charges, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Hossein Nayeri, 35, fled from the United States to Iran after the 2012 kidnapping and torture of the cannabis dispensary owner, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.

He was arrested in Prague at the city's airport in November 2013, when he was changing flights from Iran to Spain on his way to visit family, sparking a months-long extradition process, prosecutors said.

Nayeri arrived on Monday in Southern California where he was jailed without bail. He is scheduled to appear in court in Santa Ana on Wednesday.

He is charged along with co-defendants Kyle Handley and Ryan Kevorkian, both 35, and Naomi Rhodus, 34, with kidnapping, aggravated mayhem, torture and burglary, with a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury.

Prosecutors said the three male defendants slipped into the dispensary owner's home on Oct 2, 2012, kidnapped him and the girlfriend of a roommate who was there, then drove them both to the desert, where they mistakenly believed he had buried large amounts of cash, prosecutors said.

They repeatedly tortured the dispensary owner by burning him with a blowtorch before cutting off his penis, according to the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

The abducted woman was unharmed and managed to flag down a police car after running more than 1.6 km in the dark.

The dispensary owner survived the ordeal but was hospitalised for an extensive period.

Prosecutors say Handley masterminded the kidnapping plot which was based on the belief that the dispensary owner, whose name has not been released, was extremely wealthy, prosecutors said.

California is one of more than 20 states that allow medical marijuana. Rhodus is accused of helping with the plan, but not with being present during the actual kidnapping. Nayeri faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.