AMERICA – NORTH

Mexico

2 April During the inauguration of la Unidad Especializada Contra el Secuestro, in Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz, Renato Sales Heredia, head of la Coordinacion Nacional Antisecuestro (Conase), called upon all social groups to support the authorities in the fight against kidnapping. He called upon non-governmental groups such as business owners, taxi operators, transport companies, businessmen, and neighbours to cooperate with the authorities.

5 April Leonor Romero Sevilla, la diputada federal del Partido Accion Nacional (PAN), demanded that la Secretaria de Gobernacion coordinates actions with states to combat kidnapping of ranchers and added that many ranches have been abandoned or are working below capacity as ranchers protect themselves and their families and leave the day to day running to the ranch workers. She said the areas most affected by insecurity and kidnappings are: Tabasco, Tuxpan, Veracruz and Tampico.

16 April According to a newspaper report, tourists are the victims of choice for gangs that carry out “Virtual kidnapping” in Mexico. The gangs telephone targets, advise them to change hotel and then issue death threats unless they pay a ransom.

16 April During an operation in San Vicente Chicoloapan, Estado de Mexico, members of la Policia Federal arrested two men and two women, members of a kidnapping gang that operated in Estado de Mexico and Mexico DF. A kidnapping victim was rescued. The gang have been involved in at least two other kidnappings. One was when a businesswoman was kidnapped as she left her residence in Los Reyes La Paz, Estado de Mexico, on 1 February 2015. Her body was found a month later in Nezahualcoyotl. The second known case was on 15 September 2014 when a businessman was kidnapped in Venustiano Carranza, Distrito Federal.

19 April The US State Department warned US citizens travelling to Mexico about the dangers of kidnapping. It stated that la Secretaria de Gobernacion de Mexico (Segob) has indicated that kidnappings in the country had risen 20% in 2013 compared with 2012. It added that kidnapping can happen anywhere in the country but identified Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Michoacan, Estado de Mexico and Morelos as the states of highest risk. El Instituto Nacional de Estadisticas y Geografia ((Inegi) estimated that of 102,682 kidnappings in 2012, only 1,317 were reported to the police. It added that the police had been implicated in some of the incidents and that more than 130 kidnappings of US citizens had been reported to the US Embassy in Mexico between January and November 2014.

20 April Isabel Miranda de Wallace, la presidenta de la associacion Alto al Secuestro, said that reported kidnapping cases had reduced by 6.56% in March compared to February. She added that in March 128 incidents involving 154 victims had been recorded. The Federal Authorities had responded to 47 cases and State Authorities 81 cases. There were no reported cases in March in Baja California Sur, Colima, Sonora, Chihuahua, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche, Nayarit and Tlaxcala. One case was reported in each of Coahuila, Durango, Guanajuato, and Sinalao.

23 April During a meeting of Morelos State el Consejo Estatal de Seguridad Publica, Jorge Hurtado Valdez, el secretario Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publica (SNSP), reported that, according to SNSP statistics, there was a reduction of 87% in reported kidnappings in 2014 in Morelos and in Mexico the reduction countrywide was 41.61%.

24 April Renato Sales Heredia, el coordinador nacional contra secuestro, said that there had been 268 reported kidnappings over the period January to March 2015, a reduction of 35% when compared to the 416 reported incidents over the same period in 2014. He attributed the reduction to intelligence gathering and interinstitutional coordination. He added that Morelos State showed a reduction of 79% (8 cases in 2015 compared to 39 in 2014); Sinaloa a reduction of 42% (4 cases in 2015 against 6 in 2014); Veracruz a reduction of 46% (22 cases in 2015 against 41 in 2014); and Michoacan a reduction of 82% (7 cases in 2015 against 41 in 2014).

28 April There has been a rise in the kidnappings of foreigners in the country. A report by the Mexican National Immigration Institute gave the following figures for the kidnapping of foreign nationals in the country: 2012 – 72; 2013 – 75; 2014 – 697. The kidnapping of 130 US citizens was reported to US Consulates and the US Embassy between January and December 2014. The most dangerous Mexican state for kidnappings is Tamaulipas that borders Texas. Most of the kidnapped foreigners were held for hours or days in “Express Kidnappings”.

USA

26 April One of three senior officials involved with a White House ordered advisory group on US hostage policy suggested that the group was about to recommend that the families of American hostages who communicate with foreign kidnappers or raise money and pay ransoms will no longer have to fear being prosecuted for aiding terrorist groups. The study is being undertaken by the National Counterterrorism Center

AMERICA – CENTRAL

Costa Rica

18 April A Mexican only known as Oporta (55), was freed the previous night by police after being kidnapped on 11 April as he arrived at Juan Santamaria airport, San Jose. The victim was found hidden in a house in El Erizo, Alajuela, and a Nicaraguan man aged 36 years was arrested. The victim was offered a lift from the airport and then threatened with a pistol. He was forced to contact his family and pass on a ransom demand of USD50,000. The family reported the contact to the Mexican authorities who informed the Costa Rican police. Two Costa Ricans were arrested during a follow up operation by the police. Investigators determined that a kidnapping ring operates in the country targeting foreigners, mainly Mexicans, by making false investment offers. Their offers motivate investors to travel to Costa Rica where they are met by members of the ring and driven from the airport.

AMERICA – SOUTH

Brazil

27 April Antonio Paulo Batista, the son of the owner of Farm Jabotical in New Fatima, Goias, was rescued by police after being kidnapped one month earlier in Goianira. The victim was kidnapped when two men arrived at the farm looking for employment. When they were told the owners were not looking to hire anyone, they announced it was a kidnapping and forcibly took their victim away. The police said they managed to identify the kidnappers’ safe house and that the family had not paid a ransom.

Colombia

20 April Coronel Fabio Lopez, director de la Direccion Antisecuestro y Anti Extorsion de la Policia, stated that in 2014 there were 288 kidnapping incidents in the country. Of these, 167 were extortion related and 121 “simples”. He explained that the definition of “simples” was the illegitimate restriction of freedom of movement of a person. He added that to date this year there have been 29 kidnappings for extortion and 10 “simples”.

21 April The five year old son of architect Cesar Arbelaez, was kidnapped by five hooded men from his home in Carepa, in the northwest of the country, on 20 April. The boy was being looked after by the housekeeper when the men entered the property. They threatened her with knives, and left her bound and gagged before escaping with the boy. The boy’s father said he was waiting for information and that he had not received any ransom demand.

Ecuador

6 April Colonel Ramiro Ortega, jefe de la Policia Judicial de Pichincha, said that from the beginning of January to the middle of March there had been 72 reported cases of “secuestro expres”. He gave these figures during a press conference to announce the capture of a gang dedicated to “secuestro expres” that had been operating in the commercial area of Quito.

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