AMERICA – NORTH

Mexico

4 July According to Miguel Angel Guerrero Castro, el Coordinador Contra la Delincuencia Organizado in Baja California, from January to June 2014 reported kidnapping incidents increased in Tijuana by 50% when compared with the same period in 2013. In 2014 there were 15 reported kidnappings compared with 10 in 2013. He added that in more than half the cases the victims have been freed.

5 July As a result of investigations carried out by agents from la Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado de Mexico, nine suspected kidnappers, including seven of Nigerian origin, were arrested in connection with the kidnapping of an unnamed 16 year old. The victim was kidnapped on 20 June in Nextlalpan, Toluca, and held in a property in Zumpango. The victim was held for several days while the kidnappers demanded a ransom from the family. Agents located the property, rescued the victim and made the arrests.

5 July According to figures released by el Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publica (SNSP), there were 97 reported incidents of kidnapping in Michoacan State during the period 1 January to 31 May 2014. This put Michoacan second to Tamaulipas (177) and above Estado de Mexico and Morelos as the states with the most reported kidnapping incidents over the period. In addition, 208 extortion incidents were reported over the same period.

6 July Figures released by la Secretaria de Seguridad Publica del Estado (SSPE) showed that in Baja California during the first five months of 2014 there were 21 reported kidnapping incidents compared with 12 over the same period in 2013. Tijuana recorded the highest number in the State with 14 reported incidents followed by Mexicali with four and Ensenada and Tecate with one each.

11 July El Coordinator Nacional Antisecuestro, Renato Sales Heredia, announced the arrest of Jeremias Marquez Bautista, alias “El Perro”. “El Perro” is accused of being the leader of various organised crime gangs dedicated to kidnapping and extortion in Tabasco State. He is believed to have been involved in at least 41 kidnappings since 2010.

16 July According to Alto al Secuestro, the number of kidnapping incidents in the country during the first six months increased by 56% when compared to the same period in 2013. The number of reported kidnapping incidents increased to 1,766 compared to 1,130 the previous year. The organisation stated that 72% of the reported incidents occurred in seven states: Estado de Mexico, Morelos, Guerrero, Tamaulipas, Distrito Federal, Veracruz and Michoacan. According to Miranda de Wallace, the five areas with the highest number of reported incidents were: Estado de Mexico (889); Tamaulipas (431); Morelos (419); Guerrero (404) and Distrito Federal (305).

17 July The National Anti-Kidnapping Coordinator, Renato Sales, said at a press conference that federal forces rescued 224 kidnap victims – mostly undocumented Central American migrants – and arrested nine suspects in two operations in Tamaulipas State. On 16 July 205 migrants, including 156 Hondurans, 25 Salvadorans, seven Guatemalans, five Cubans and two Mexicans, were freed in Tampico. On 3 July, nine Salvadorans, six Hondurans and four Cubans – eight of them minors – were rescued in Altamira.

17 July Jorge Messeguer, Secretary of Government of Morelos State, in an interview with journalist Ciro Gomez Leyva, claimed that the number of reported kidnapping incidents in the state had reduced in 2014. He said that there had been 86 reported incidents from 1 January to date in contrast to the figure released by Alto al Secuestro of 419 reported cases from 1 December 2013 to 30 June 2014. He added that there were 19 reported cases in January, 16 in February, 13 in March, 15 in April, 9 in May, 8 in June and 5 to date in July.

18 July The Security Commissioner for Morelos State, Alberto Capella Ibarra, said that to date in 2014, security agencies have arrested 55 suspected kidnappers and rescued eight kidnapping victims. He added that a change in the strategy for preventing and fighting kidnapping in Morelos had resulted in a reduction in the number of incidents.

19 July El Procurador General de Justicia del Estado de Zacatecas, Arturo Nahle Garcia, said that during the first six months of 2014 there had been 11 reported kidnapping incidents and in eight of these cases the kidnappers are in prison. He added the figure compares favourably with previous years when there were 16 reported cases in 2012 and 19 in 2013.

19 July During an interview at the 20th anniversary ceremony of la Academia Superior de la Policia Federal, Monte Alejandro Rubido Garcia, Comisionado Nacional de Seguridad, admitted that reported kidnapping incidents in the country had increased by about 16% over the first six months of 2014 as compared to the same period in 2013. He added that he was certain that by the end of the year the figures would be satisfactory.

20 July El Procurador General de Justicia de Guerrero, Inaky Blanco Cabrera, said during a press conference that reported kidnapping incidents in the state had decreased by 48% for the period 1 January to 30 June 2014. He added that during this period 118 cases had been successfully resolved with 34 victims rescued and 133 suspects arrested.

22 July El Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publica released a report titled “Informe de Victimas de Homicidio, Secuestro y Extorsion” covering the period 1 January to 30 June 2014. The figures show that there were 979 reported kidnapping incidents throughout the country compared with 823 over the same period in 2013, an increase of 19%. In June alone there were 138 reported incidents compared with 154 in May, a monthly decrease of 10.4%. In June the most cases were reported in Tamaulipas with 42, followed by Veracruz with 19, Estado de Mexico (19), Michoacan (12) and Guerrero (7). Cases of extortion decreased 8.3% countrywide from 4,046 reported cases for the first six months in 2013 to 3,635 over the same period in 2014.

23 July La Procuraduria in Mexico DF stated that a gang specialising in the kidnapping of businessmen in Mexico DF had been dismantled and six members arrested. The gang is suspected of being involved in at least seven cases of kidnapping of businessmen since October 2013. Investigations had been ongoing since the first kidnapping incident.

23 July The authorities in Tehuacan, Puebla, reported that Bernadino de Magahaes Miguel (24), a Portuguese citizen, had been kidnapped during a robbery at a maquiladora. The victim had entered the country on a tourist visa on 21 June 2014 to visit a family whose daughter he had met during a student exchange programme. The family own the maquiladora.

26 July The body of Gozalo Ruiz Cruz, the Director of Education for Santa Maria Colotepec, Oaxaca, was discovered after he was kidnapped on 24 July. The kidnappers contacted his family with an initial ransom demand of 600,000 pesos (USD58,000). The family negotiated the demand down to 400,000 pesos (USD38,600) which they paid.

30 July Isabel Miranda de Wallace, President of Alto el Secuestro, stated in an interview with a journalist that people in Mexico City do not have confidence in la Procuraduria General de Justicia del Distrito Federal and, as a result, do not report kidnapping incidents. She quoted the recent case of the kidnapping of Niza Fernanda Aldana Garrido (25) who was kidnapped on 17 July in Tlahuac. The following day the family received a telephone call from the kidnappers demanding 700,000 pesos (USD67,500) for her release. The family informed the Procuradaria who appointed three agents to assist the family. One of the agents asked the family to pay them 1,500 pesos (USD145) to speed up the investigation which they paid. The victim’s body was found shortly afterwards and the autopsy revealed she had been killed two days after the kidnapping.

31 July La Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado (PGJE) de Chiapas reported that agents had rescued a kidnapping victim and arrested nine suspected kidnappers at Mapastepec, Chiapas. The victim was kidnapped on 23 July while travelling to his ranch. The kidnappers contacted his family and made a ransom demand of 10 million pesos (USD965,250). Agents mounted an investigation and located where the victim was being held before mounting a successful rescue operation.

USA

1 July Two women from California aged over forty years, and two men in their twenties from Tijuana, pleaded guilty in a US federal court to wire fraud and money laundering. They were part of a “virtual” kidnapping gang that extorted 128 Latin American families into paying almost USD200,000 in ransoms to free relatives from kidnappings that never happened. The victims were ordered to send money through MoneyGram or Western Union against the threat to harm or kill their relatives.

3 July Three kidnapping suspects were tracked down by Brownsville police thanks to a mobile tracking app on their victim’s telephone. A young man was kidnapped by the three on 21 June when he was forced into their vehicle. They stole his wallet and cell phone before releasing him near Los Fresnos.

16 July An unnamed 23 year old man was rescued by FBI agents after raids on five locations in North Carolina and three people were arrested. The man had been kidnapped by a group of people posing as law enforcement officers on 9 July as he was driving to work in St. Matthews, South Carolina. The man’s family received ransom demand calls from several people calling from different numbers in Mexico demanding a USD200,000 ransom. Between 300 and 500 FBI agents were involved in the investigation at some point. The FBI narrowed down the location where the victim was being held to five places before mounting the rescue operation. The victim was discovered in a residence in Cumberland County, North Carolina.

AMERICA – CENTRAL

Guatemala

14 July The security forces arrested five suspected kidnappers and rescued a youth in La Lagunilla, Malacatan, San Marcos department. The unnamed youth had been kidnapped 24 hours earlier and the kidnappers had contacted his family with a ransom demand of 100,000 quetzales (USD12,900) for his release. It is not known if the family paid the ransom.

17 July Six suspected members of a kidnapping gang called “los Psicopatas” were captured after an exchange of gunfire between agents from la Fuerza de Tarea Contra el Secuestro and the gang in a mountainous area of Zaragoza, Chimaltenango. A Policia Nacional Civil (PNC) spokesman said that the gang had been responsible for six kidnapping incidents in Chimaltenango during recent months. Three victims were released after a ransom payment, two were killed, one, an 18 year old boy after his family paid a ransom, and the sixth one was freed after being sexually assaulted.

Honduras

2 July The marine salvage boat, Aqua Quest, arrived back in Tarpon Springs, USA, after being held in Honduras since early May after the crew were accused of bringing undeclared weapons into the country. The captain, Robert Mayne, said he and his crew were kidnapped and were the subject of an extortion attempt. The men were working on a project in the town of Ahuas to remove logs from a river when Honduran naval officials said they found guns on the boat. The crew were held in a prison from 5 May until being released last week after the Honduran Appeals Court ruled that the men had not committed a crime.

13 July An unnamed 62 year old man was rescued by police agents after being kidnapped by a dangerous gang that operates in Nacaome, Valle Department. He was held for three days during which time the police mounted an intense search operation. Two suspects were arrested including the negotiator who had made a ransom demand for a considerable sum of money.

AMERICA – SOUTH

Argentina

29 July Segundo Tevez, father of Carlos Tevez, the ex-Argentina international and Juventus football player, was kidnapped in the Buenos Aires suburb of Moron, at about 7:00am. The victim was travelling by car when it was stopped by the kidnappers in a random kidnapping. The kidnappers were about to release the victim when, after studying his identity card, they realised his connection with Carlos Tevez. He was put in another car and driven away. He was released eight hours later after the family paid a ransom said to be 400,000 pesos (USD50,000). Short term kidnappings in which hostages are held for a short time and a low ransom demanded, have grown more common in recent years in Argentina as the country’s living standards have dropped.

30 July Daniel Grigolotto, a fruit grower and owner of a fruit stall in el Mercado Central, Buenos Aires, was kidnapped at about 5:00pm by criminals who approached him at his place of work. He was forced to call his family with a ransom demand and deadline for the payment of 9:00pm. The victim was released six hours after the ransom payment of 180,000 pesos (USD22,500)..

Brazil

8 July Helium Rufino dos Santos Borges (27) was killed by his kidnappers after his family paid the USD20,000 ransom. The victim was forced to call his family and state he had a debt of USD20,000. This was the fourth case in less than two months in Annapolis, about 50 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro, where the kidnappers killed their victim after the family had paid the ransom. The police believe that all four cases are connected and there may be drug trafficking involvement.

10 July Two armed men entered a house on a farm in Aparecida de Goiania and kidnapped the 4 year old son of the owner. The boy was held for three days while his family raised the 200,000 reias (USD90,900) ransom demanded. The kidnappers called on a number of occasions from a variety of telephone numbers. Each call lasted for less than 30 seconds. On 24 July the police arrested three men suspected of being involved in the kidnapping.

13 July Leonardo Araujo Carvalho (48), a merchant, was kidnapped from in front of his house in Campos Gerais when kidnappers forced him into their car and drove away. The victim was made to call his family with a demand for R450,000 (USD22,700). He was released the following day after the family paid the ransom.

Colombia

1 July According to the Ministry of Defence and the Pais Libre Foundation, guerrilla groups were responsible for 58 of the 299 reported kidnappings in 2013. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were responsible for 30 kidnappings, 10 more than in 2012, while the National Liberation Army (ELN) were responsible for 28, an increase over the 22 cases in 2012. Between January and March 2014, FARC were responsible for 10 out of a total 75 reported kidnappings and ELN were responsible for six. The majority of the kidnappings were for ransom. In 2012, FARC denounced kidnapping but their record demonstrates a lack of commitment to this promise. The number of deaths of victims during captivity increased 200% from one over the period January to March 2013 to three over the same period in 2014. The departments with the most incidents at present are Arauca, Norte de Santander, Tolima, Meta and Cesar.

The number of kidnappings in 2013, 299, fell 2% from the 2012 figure. Of the 299 kidnapping victims in 2013, 143 were freed by their kidnappers, 101 were rescued by the security forces, 20 escaped and 11 were freed by the kidnappers as a result of pressure from the security forces. Another 18 hostages remain in captivity and six died during captivity. Among the 75 kidnapping victims in the first quarter of 2014, 33 were rescued by the security forces, 30 were freed by the kidnappers, two were released as a result of pressure from the security forces, seven remain in captivity and three have died.

The GAULA which was formed on 11 June 1996 to fight kidnapping and extortion, recorded 115 kidnappings from January to June 2014 - 25 times fewer than the 2917 recorded during the same period in 2001.

1 July According to a report from el Servicio Geologico Colombiano (SGC), el Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN) kidnapped Andres Felipe Calle Valencia, a geologist on contract from la Universidad de Caldas who was carrying out mapping, on 29 June at Curmani, Cesar (norte).

9 July Seven members of a kidnapping gang called ”Los Caines” that operated in Meta Department were arrested during an operation mounted by the National Police. According to an investigation by el Gaula de la Policia Nacional, the gang had kidnapped a local businesswoman and her companion and continued to demand a ransom after the two victims were dead. The kidnappers contacted the businesswoman’s son pretending to be guerrillas from 27th Front of FARC but did not specify the ransom to be paid. The leaders of the gang are related to the businesswoman.

24 July Coronel Carlos Alberto Wilches Goyeneche, Comandante de la Policia Nacional en Sucre, said during a press conference that the police are treating the disappearance of Jose Isaac Fernandez (71), a doctor, as a missing person incident although he may have been kidnapped. The doctor’s family claim that he has been kidnapped. Vigilantes in Parque El Olimpo in the centre of Sincelejo, Sucre, reported seeing the doctor being abducted by two armed men at around 7:00pm while he was walking in the park.

28 July Ranch owner, Lamberto Hernandez, was kidnapped by four armed men from his ranch, Monte Cielo, at Cabrera, Pijino del Carmen, Magdalena, at around 6:30pm. The gunmen tied up the workers in a house on the ranch. The workers were able to free themselves and report the kidnapping to the authorities at midnight.

Paraguay

3 July This was the 93rd day of captivity for Arlan Fick who was kidnapped by members of el Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP) on 2 April. The duration equals that of the kidnapping of Fidel Zavala by the same group in 2010 and was released after being held for 93 days. The family of Arlan Fick have already paid the USD500,000 ransom demand but the kidnappers have demanded a further payment of USD50,000 in community projects for people living in the north of the country.

16 July Simon Pedro Arevalo Florentin (19), was kidnapped by four men in the evening while driving to the residence of an uncle in Hernandarias. He was released the following day after his family paid a ransom of about USD30,000.

Venezuela

15 July The police reported that they had found the head and hands of Jose Henrique Maia Sardinha (50), a merchant of Portuguese origin, in San Martin Mercado, Catia, west of Caracas. The victim had been kidnapped by gunmen as he arrived at the bakery he owned, “El Arabito”, on 8 July. The kidnappers contacted his family the same day with an unspecified but large ransom demand. The killing of Jose Sardinha brings to three the number of cases of Portuguese merchants who have been killed in Venezuela since the beginning of July.

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