AMERICA – NORTH

Mexico

3 May The authorities reported the arrest of eight people in relation to the kidnapping of an unnamed 20 year old man from his home in Cancun on 1 May. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of 2 million pesos (USD134,400). Agents from Las Fiscalias Especializadas en Investigacion al Secuestro (FEIS) investigated the incident and identified a gang from Guerrero who they believed were responsible. They arrested four men in Guerrero and four others in Cancun. They rescued the victim from a house in region 94, Cancun.

7 May Agents from la Comision Estatal de Seguridad del Estado de Mexico rescued 67 men, 19 women and 14 youths from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka and India who had been held for 35 days by people traffickers. A Guatemalan who had escaped, alerted the authorities who mounted a rescue operation. Six men from Honduras and El Salvador who were acting as guards were arrested.

8 May El Fiscal General del Estado de Guerrero, Miguel Angel Godinez, said at a press conference that Bernardo Javier Cano Torres, a journalist with ABC radio who hosts the Hora Cero radio programme, had been kidnapped the previous day in Iguala along with his three companions. He added that the kidnappers had made contact and demanded a ransom. The victim also worked for a pharmaceutical company and was on his way to deliver medication when his van was stopped on the Iguala-Teloloapan highway.

18 May During a press conference in Mexico City, Isabel Miranda de Wallace, head of la Organizacion Alto al Secuestro, said that between 1 January and 30 April 2015, 566 people had been kidnapped and 688 suspected kidnappers arrested throughout the country. The monthly breakdown of people kidnapped was: 163 in January; 137 in February; 128 in March and 138 in April, and for arrested kidnappers: 148 in January; 163 in February; 185 in March and 192 in April. The increase in the number of people kidnapped between March and April was 7.8% whereas there was a decrease of 32% in the number of cases in April 2015 when compared to April 2014. She added that, in general, the system to combat kidnapping was inefficient. She also commented that there was no system in place to determine the total number of immigrants being kidnapped in the country. To date during President Enrique Pena Nieto’s term in office beginning in December 2012, 5,710 kidnappings have been reported. The states of Mexico, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Morelos, Veracruz, Michoacan, Tabasco, Jalisco, Oaxaca and the Federal District account for 82.4% of reported kidnappings.

18 May In an interview with Radio Formula, Renato Sales Heredia, Coordinador Antisecuestro, said that to date in the country 394 kidnapping incidents had been reported involving 494 victims of whom 18 had been killed and 99 people were still held by their kidnappers. He added that in 2014, 1,394 cases of kidnapping were registered.

21 May El Coordinador Nacional Antisecuestro, Renato Sales Heredia, said during a telephone conversation with Eduardo Ruiz Healy’s radio programme, that the number of reported kidnappings in the country during January to April showed a decrease of 36% over the same period in 2014.

24 May Agents from the missing persons unit of the Attorney General’s Office in Veracruz State, rescued Dante Hugo Consoli, an Argentinean, and Genaro Sanchez, a Mexican, who had been kidnapped on 9 May in Orizaba. The agents had identified a businessman who had done some liquor deals with the two victims and was the person behind the kidnapping. They mounted a mobile surveillance operation and discovered a house in Ixtapaluca, Mexico State, where the two men were being held. Four suspects were arrested during the operation.

USA

7 May Newspaper reports stated that virtual kidnapping is on the rise through the country. Scam artists call parents and claim they are holding children hostage until they get what they are demanding. A Louisiana woman recalled that she was sitting in the doctor’s office when she received a call claiming her son had been involved in an accident. An adult man claimed her son had hit his car. He added that he was on probation and had panicked and put a gun to her son’s head and was holding him hostage until she delivered USD800.00 to pay for the damaged bumper. She was going to pay until the Sheriff’s office advised her to wait until they authenticated that there had been an accident. There was no record and the woman saved her money.

21 May Police warned residents in Torrance about a kidnapping scam to get people to wire money to callers pretending to be members of a Mexican drug cartel. A caller contacts a victim claiming to be a member of a drug cartel from Mexico City who has kidnapped their child. Someone pretending to be the kidnapped child comes on the telephone and cries: “Mum, help me. Do what they say. They have got me in their truck. Help me! Help me!”.The scammer asks how much money the parent can access quickly – usually between USD1,000 and USD5,000 – and then directs the victim to go to a CVS Pharmacy store and wire the money through Western Union. MoneyGram, Green Dot MoneyPack and Reloadit may also be used.

28 May Two men were charged with kidnapping a man in Oakland the previous week. The unnamed victim was kidnapped from a car at the corner of East 12th and High Streets in Oakland shortly before 11:00pm on 21 May. He was forced into the kidnappers’ car at gunpoint and imprisoned in the trunk. The kidnappers called the victim’s family and demanded USD150,000 for his release. The victim was released when the kidnappers crashed the car after a short pursuit by police. The kidnapping lasted 9 hours.

AMERICA – SOUTH

Argentina

6 May Daniel Rebagliati (53), son of Jorge Luis Rebagliati, owner of Centra, was released by his kidnappers in Almirante Brown, south Buenos Aires. He had been kidnapped eight days previously while returning home from his company’s factory in San Martin, just north of the federal capital. The kidnappers contacted the family and demanded a ransom of USD2 million. During one of the last negotiation calls, the kidnappers are believed to have agreed the payment of 1.8 million pesos (USD204,300). According to the family lawyer, there were around three calls each day lasting less than one minute each. The kidnappers’ negotiator enquired if the family required proof of life and said, if they did, he would send fingers. It was reported that the victim was kept in darkness, allegedly in a coffin, and wore a hood for the duration of the incident. This was the third kidnapping incident during the past 60 days in which the victim was held for more than one week. The other two occurred in Conurbano.

8 May Nicolas Chichocki (21), a student at a private university, was kidnapped by armed men at around 22:30pm while driving away in his new car from his fiancée’s home in Lanus Oeste. The kidnappers contacted his father, who is retired, and agreed a ransom payment of 50,000 pesos (USD5,675). The victim was released a few hours after being kidnapped when the ransom was paid. He said the kidnappers were very violent and threatened to kill him if they did not get the money. He was blindfolded throughout his ordeal. This was the third reported kidnapping in the area within one week. The first was the kidnapping of Daniel Rebagliati which was then followed by that of Jorge Barrios who was held for six hours.

22 May The police alerted residents to a new form of virtual kidnapping that has been taking place around the cinemas of La Anonima. The criminals wait near the entrance of the cinemas posing as public opinion pollsters. They select young victims and obtain personal information about them including their full names, landline and cellular telephone numbers and addresses. Once the victim has entered the cinema to watch the film, the criminals contact their families saying they have kidnapped their child and demanding a sum of money for their release.

Brazil

3 May The police confirmed that businessman Arnon Felipe Hamud (24) had been released by his kidnappers and was back at home. He had been kidnapped on 14 April at around 11:00pm from his home in April Candoi, central Parana, when thugs broke down the door of the house. They demanded money, jewellery and car keys from the victim and his wife. They forced the victim into one of the family cars and drove away. The vehicle was found the following afternoon in Lagoa Seca. The victim was found in Goioere, northwest Parana state. The police would not give further details of the kidnapping.

Colombia

1 May Alirio Navarro Jaimes, administrator of a finca in Buena Vista, Ocana, Norte de Santander, was kidnapped by four armed men from the finca. The family have yet to receive a ransom demand. El coronel Jhon Jairo Aroca, comandante de la Policia de Norte de Santander, said that, to date in 2015, seven kidnappings have been reported in the region.

6 May El Gaula de la Policia de Antioquia confirmed that Wilmar Cena Suarez (32) had been kidnapped from a finca near El Rosario, Santo Domingo, Nordeste de Antioquia. The victim is thought to have been mistaken for the owner of three fincas that produce milk. He is in fact just a campesino working with cows on the fincas. The family reported to the Gaula that they had received a call from the kidnappers demanding a ransom of 50 million pesos (USD19,800).

11 May Juan Cristobal Ramirez (70), a businessman, was kidnapped by armed men from his workplace in Rio Iro, Choco. The secretary of the Interior for Choco said that el frente Cimarron del ELN were responsible for the kidnapping. In 2014, there were three reported kidnappings in the zone.

Ecuador

13 May Mateo Acosta, a youth, was kidnapped close to his home in Quito when a vehicle stopped and men forced him into it. The kidnappers pushed away his younger sister who was walking with him. About 200 policemen were deployed to look for the victim and he was freed 72 hours after the kidnapping.

14 May In a joint operation between la Unidad Antisecuestro y Extorsion (Unase), el Grupo de Intervencion y Rescate (GIR) and la Fiscalia, agents arrested seven suspects accused of the kidnapping of a Chinese businesswoman, Liao I. (28), on 28 April in central Guayaquil. The victim was kidnapped at around 8:30am when she was forced into a vehicle containing four men. Hours later, the kidnappers contacted the victim’s husband and demanded a ransom of USD1 million. She was rescued two days after her kidnapping.

Uruguay

30 May El subsecretario del Interior, Jorge Vazquez, told a newspaper that it was a possibility that kidnapping was growing in the country. He explained that kidnapping is among the crimes that occur in many countries and can be exported into other countries. The authorities of the Ministry of Interior are on alert as a result of kidnapping cases that have appeared in the country during the last two years. In the first of two recent cases, the family of a woman paid a ransom to the criminals for her release in Cerro. In the second there has been no news about Milvana Salomone, a gynaecologist, who disappeared on 17 May while returning to her home in Montevideo after visiting her parents in Florida.

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