SECURITY UPDATE – APRIL 2014
AMERICA – NORTH
1 April During the inauguration of la Unidad Especializada de Combate al Secuestro (UECS) in Morelos State, Rodrigo Dorantes Salgado, el Fiscal General de Justicia de Morelos, claimed that 233 kidnap victims had been rescued alive, 263 alleged kidnappers had been arrested, 57 kidnapping gangs had been disbanded and there had been a reduction of 54% in the number of incidents. Isabel Miranda de Wallace, President of Alto al Secuestro, immediately contradicted the figures saying they were “fanciful figures”.
2 April A spokesman for La Unidad Model Antisecuestro de Chihuahua stated that the unit is comprised of 40 men and 20 women with qualifications in Human Rights, Psychology and Criminology. The Unit has been trained by the FBI and Policia Nacional de Colombia and is formed of reaction, negotiation, investigation and analysis teams. For security reasons the name of the head of the Unit has not been disclosed.
11 April A newspaper article describing the story behind of Isabel Miranda de Wallace said she thought she had saved the life of her son, Hugo Alberto Wallace Miranda (33), when she paid the three kidnappers USD114,642 in ransom. Her son had been kidnapped in Mexico City on 11 July 2005. She never saw him again. Her campaign to find her son captivated the public’s attention. She has made fighting the crime of kidnapping her life’s work and set up the organisation Alto al Secuestro. According to Alto al Secuestro, between December 2012 and 28 February 2014, there were 4051 kidnapping victims in the country. Of these, 2922 have been freed but 1129 are still being held. Alto al Secuestro also says that 381 cases were not reported to the authorities. De Wallace said that “The victims of kidnappings are shop owners and wage earners because they handle the most cash and the kidnappers don’t ask for the large sums of money they used to. Ransom amounts have gone down. Now they may ask for a million pesos (USD62,500) and end up taking 100,000 pesos (USD6,250) and the result is that it impacts on a greater number of people.
15 April El Presidente del Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano, Francisco Rivas, presented a report containing figures concerning the crimes of most impact in the country for the month of February. It shows that kidnappings increased by 9% in February compared with January. He pointed out that the figures for January take into account a month of 31 days whereas February is only 28 days. The state with the most kidnappings was Tamaulipas followed by Michoacan and Estado de Mexico. Other states with a high level of incidents were Morelos, Tabasco and Guerrero. The number of extortion incidents in February showed a decrease of 12.56% when compared to January.
24 April Figures released by el Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publica (SESNSP), showed that the number of reported kidnapping incidents during the first three months of 2014 had increased by 7.3% in comparison to the same period in 2013. According to the figures there were 428 incidents involving 509 victims. Tamaulipas had the largest number of incidents, 103, 20% of the total, and Michoacan (72), Edomex (50), Morelos (46) and Veracruz followed with a combined total of 41.1% of the total. The states that had no reported incidents over the three month period were Aquascalientes, Baja California Sur, Campeche, Queretaro and Yucatan.
28 April Arquimedes Oseguera, the mayor of Lazaro Cardenas, a major commercial port city on the Pacific Coat in Michoacan, was arrested and accused of kidnapping, extortion and links to the Caballeros Templarios drug cartel. Oseguera is a member of the liberal Party of the Democratic Revolution that took office in 2012 and his term as Mayor is due to end in 2015.
10 April An elite FBI hostage rescue team rescued Frank Arthur Janssen (63) from an apartment complex in southeast Atlanta just after midnight. The victim had been kidnapped from his home in Wake Forest, North Carolina, on Saturday 5 April. He answered a knock on the door and was confronted by several people who tasered him, put him in a car and drove him across state borders to Atlanta. On Monday morning the victim’s wife received several text messages indicating her husband had been kidnapped and would be sent back in “six boxes” if she informed the police. On Wednesday she received a photo of her husband seated and tied to a chair. The authorities learned that the kidnappers intended to kill their victim in a matter of hours and mounted the rescue operation. It is understood he was targeted because of his daughter’s work as a prosecutor.
AMERICA – CENTRAL
16 April The authorities said that nine suspected members of a kidnapping gang, that included six policemen, had been arrested in five different provinces in an operation carried out by police’s anti-kidnapping task force. Those arrested included the alleged leader of the gang, Maritza Perez, alias “La Patrona” (The Boss). The investigation was a follow up of the kidnapping and murder in December 2013 of Amanda Lemus Contreras in Jutiapa Province. The victim was killed although her family paid a ransom. The police said the arrests thwarted plans for three kidnappings and five homicides. According to a government spokesman, kidnapping incidents have reduced by 50% during the last two years and in 2013 the security forces dismantled 21 kidnapping groups.
29 April The police and military rescued a businessman who had been escorted to a bank in San Pedro Sula to obtain a ransom for his wife who was being held at their residence in la colonia Jardines del Valle in the city. The incident started when five armed men broke into the residence at around midday. Three men remained in the residence guarding the wife of the businessman while the other two escorted him to a bank in the centre of San Pedro Sula. The kidnappers demanded between 5 and 10 million lempiras (USD263,000 – USD526,000). A witness to the incident alerted the police who mounted an operation to rescue the businessman and his wife.
AMERICA – SOUTH
8 April It is three months since the kidnapping of Spaniard Borja Lazaro Herrero (34) in Cabo de la Vela, La Guajira. The victim was a photographic journalist who was taking photographs of indigenous Colombians. The Colombian police are continuing to investigate his disappearance and the victim’s family in Alave, northern Spain, have appealed for help from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Reporters Without Frontiers.
25 April The popular music band, One Direction, were taken to the stadium where they were playing in a convoy of security vehicles and had more than 200 guards at the venue. It was reported that the band had been given “hostile environment” training before leaving for a tour of South America. The band were due to travel on to Lima, Peru, for their next engagement before playing in other South American countries.
6 April The police were investigating reports that Rajendra Singh (40), a businessman, was kidnapped while sitting in his vehicle in front of his business place at around 7:00pm the previous evening at Foulis, Enmore. Two men were seen entering the vehicle which then drove off. The victim’s wife later received a telephone call demanding GYD50 million (USD245,000) for his release. On 7 April it was reported that the kidnappers had reduced their demand to GYD25 million (USD122,000). In a further development, it was reported that the kidnappers had threatened to kidnap the victim’s wife and son if their demand was not met. On 14 April the police reported that six men had been arrested in connection with the kidnapping and murder of the victim.
16 April The police Public Relations and Press Officer in a letter to the Stabroek News newspaper said that two kidnappings were reported in 2009, two in 2010, one in 2011 and none in 2012 and 2013.
21 April Alcido Fick, the father of Arlan Fick (16), pleaded with his son’s kidnappers, el Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP), to release him during a brief press conference. He added that the family had met the demands the kidnappers had made for the victim’s release. Arlan was kidnapped on 2 April during an exchange of fire between the EPP and the military on a ranch in Paso Tuya, Concepcion department. His father said he had complied with the demands to broadcast a propaganda video and distribute USD50,000 worth of food to two poor communities in Concepcion.
28 April Jorge Massola (49), a Brazilian farmer and agricultural equipment and buildings trader, was kidnapped from his residence in Nueva Esperanza by armed bandits. He had recently sold a property for USD200,000 and the bandits demanded that amount in ransom. They killed their hostage when there was resistance to paying the demand.
8 April Nairobi Pinto, the chief of correspondents for TV news network Globovision, was kidnapped at around 4:30pm by two masked men as she left her home in Los Chaguaramos, Caracas, according to her father. Speculation mounted that the victim had been kidnapped for “political motives” after the Opposition Student Leader, Gabriela Arellano, admitted they were friends. The victim was released on 14 April in the town of Cua, about 60 kilometres south of Caracas. Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez said 3,000 police officers had been searching for the victim but gave no further details about who had kidnapped her or the circumstances of her release.
18 April Blagdimir Labrador, Secretary of Government of Zulia, stated that reported incidents of kidnapping had reduced in the state by 60% during 2014.
22 April Miguel Rodriguez Torres, Minister for the Interior, Justice and Peace, said that in 2013 the number of reported kidnapping incidents had reduced by 51%. He added that two people were currently kidnap victims and he hoped the Cicpc would resolve the cases in the following days.
Information courtesy of Griffin Underwriting