‘Sadistic’ cartel drug runner abducted couple, tortured man with torch, raped woman over massive pot heist
A Nebraska welder, who tried his hand at drug running after meeting cartel members at a Colorado concert, will spend decades in prison after kidnapping a suspected pot thief, torturing him and raping his girlfriend, according to local reports.
Tanner Danielson, 31, was sentenced to 40 to 50 years for kidnapping and 30 to 40 years for sexual assault after he abducted the couple on July 29, 2022, prison records show.
He pleaded no contest to the charges in June.
Believing the cartel would harm his family if he did not recover 50 pounds of marijuana that had been stolen from his house, he kidnapped the couple, drugged the man, tortured him with a blowtorch and hung him from a forklift, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
“Only a sadistic and evil person could do these things to another human being,” Judge Susan Strong told Danielson in court, according to the paper.
While the victim was tied up, Danielson used the torch to burn the word “thief” into his flesh.
Then, he raped the woman, drove the man 50 miles outside town and left him tied to a tree.
The victim escaped and flagged a passing driver, who called 911, according to Lincoln police. Gage County deputies responded, found him with two black eyes, burns and other injuries, according to the paper.
He told them he was held captive and tortured for 12 hours.
The couple thought they were meeting up with Danielson and his accomplice, Austin Widhalm, to buy cocaine, according to authorities.
A U.S. Marshals fugitive task force captured Danielson on Aug. 1, 2022, in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Widhalm, 28, was arrested separately on assault and false imprisonment charges. He has not yet been sentenced.