AMERICA – NORTH

Mexico

1 November Luis Angel Bravo Contreras, el Fiscal General del Estado de Veracruz, said during a press conference that to date this year, 288 kidnappers have been detained and 41 kidnapping gangs disbanded.

5 November Jose Manuel Carrasco Chacon, head of la Fiscalia Antisecuestro del Estado de Tabasco, said that kidnappers in the state are now targeting the middle classes in addition to the previous targets who were businessmen and ranch owners. He added that before August the State was registering 6 or 7 kidnapping incidents each month but from August to date this had reduced to 3 cases per month. He also said that Tabasco was listed in the top ten states for kidnapping each month but the number of incidents was gradually reducing.

8 November Reports said that the Gulf Cartel is targeting innocent people who live in the area of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the Mexican/US border, to kidnap to raise money. The large scale ransoms and extortions of well known families have caused terror among residents of the Mexican town and in Brownsville, Texas, across the border where many US citizens fear for their loved ones in Mexico. Sources have said that the kidnappings are the work of Odon Azua Cruces, aka “Gordo Cherry” or Fat Cherry, the leader of the Ciclones faction of the Gulf Cartel. It is reported that kidnappings have occurred about once every three days and there have been four kidnappings in the last few days. Some of the victims have been killed in spite of the ransoms being paid.

8 November Egidio Torre Cantu, Governor of Tamaulipas State, said that a special group comprising state and federal forces would be formed to fight kidnapping and other crimes in Matomoros. The group would be called El Grupo de Coordinacion Tamaulipas. He called upon the Federal Government to strengthen their actions along the northern border of the state.

14 November Gonzalez Nicolas, el fiscal del estado de Chihuahua, said during a press conference that statistics for the state over the years showed there were 130 reported kidnapping incidents in 2010, 95 in 2011, 53 in 2012 and only six to date in 2015. Sixty convicted kidnappers had been sent to jail in 2015.

15 November According to figures released by el Secretariado Ejecutivo del Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publica (SESNSP) for Tamaulipas state there were 129 reported kidnapping incidents in 2011, 123 incidents in 2012, 211 incidents in 2013 and 262 in 2014. Between January and September this year, 171 kidnappings were reported compared with 200 reported incidents over the same period last year. Non-governmental organisations such as el Colectivo de Familiares and Amigos de Desaparecidos, have stated that there have been more kidnapping incidents in the state than those reported to the authorities.

17 November During a press conference, Patricia Bugarin Gutierrez, la coordinadora Nacional Antisecuestro, said that, according to statistics collated by el Secretariado de Seguridad Publica, the number of reported kidnappings in the country had reduced by 29.8% over the period January to October 2015 when compared to the same period in 2014. There had been 855 reported cases in 2015, 355 less than in 2014. In addition, in October 2015, 84 cases were reported compared to 99 cases in 2014, a reduction of 15.5%.

20 November A seminar titled “Fortalecimiento a las Capacidades de Investigacion del Secuestro: Experiencias Compartidas” was held on 16 and 17 November. It was attended by la Coordinacion Nacional Antisecuestro (CONASE) and the Kidnapping and Extortion group of the United Kingdom’s National Agency Against Crime. Agents from the states of Coahuila, Distrito Federal, Durango, Estado de Mexico, Guerrero, Michoacan, Morelos, Oaxaca, Querretaro, San Luis Potosi, Tabasco, Tamaulipas, Veracruz and Zacatecas were also in attendance.

AMERICA – SOUTH

Argentina

13 November Francisca Jahan Pesetti (78), an ex-beauty pageant winner in Vendimia in 1952, died from a heart attack after being the victim of a virtual kidnapping scam at her home in Mendoza. The criminals claimed to have kidnapped her son, Andres Oons (43), and to have killed him. They told her she had to pay a ransom to recover his body. When her son later walked into the house, he found his mother in a state of shock and she died on her way to hospital.

Bolivia

26 November The family of Brazilian businessman, Jose Antonio da Silva (55), who has lived in Bolivia with his wife and two sons for 7 years, said that he had been kidnapped on 6 November in Santa Cruz. He made several telephone calls to his family asking that a ransom, rumoured to be USD600,000, be paid. According to a source, the family paid several thousand USD on 13 November but the victim has never reappeared. The Santa Cruz chief of police said that the Brazilian had disappeared and the police are searching for him in several regions. He added he did not have enough information to confirm it was a kidnapping or the amount of any ransom payment.

Brazil

18 November A Treasurer working for Banco Santander in Nova Friburgo was kidnapped by three men as he returned home in Tijuca, Teresopolis, who claimed they were holding his family hostage. They took him to the bank in Bonsucesso and made him withdraw R$150,000 (USD46,400). After collecting the money, the kidnappers took him to Paradise, Sierra de Teresopolis, where they released him. He contacted his family but found they had never been held hostage.

Colombia

4 November According to a report posted on the official police website, reported cases of kidnap for ransom fell by 42% and regular extortion by 19% during the first nine months of 2015 as compared to the same period in 2014.

6 November A spokesman for la Quinta Brigada del Ejercito Nacional said that three of the four people who had been kidnapped by el Ejercito de Liberation Nacional (ELN) guerrillas had been released. The guerrillas still hold Alexander Almanza (33), a civil engineer working for Dinacol building a milk storage plant, at Simiti, Bolivar department. The spokesman added that the three men who were released had been kidnapped by el “Frente Heroes y Martires de Santa Rosa” of ELN and their release had been a result of pressure from the army.

16 November Two soldiers, Andres Perez and Kleider Antonio Rodriguez, were handed over by the ELN to a commission comprised of la Iglesia Catolica, la Defensoria del Pueblo and members of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The two soldiers had been kidnapped on 26 October 2015 near Guican, Boyaca Department, after the ELN had ambushed a security forces’ patrol killing 11 soldiers and one policeman. The ICRC has been carrying out humanitarian work in Colombia for more than 40 years. To date this year, 19 people have been released as a result of the neutral mediation of the ICRC.

27 November Figures release by the police Gaula show that to date in 2015, one person is kidnapped in the country every second day. This compares favourably to the eleven people per day in 2000 although Colombia is still ranked ninth in the list of countries. In 2000 there were 3,572 reported cases whereas to date in 2015 there have been 184 reported cases. The Gaula stated that ELN were responsible for 20 cases and FARC for 15 cases.

Ecuador

2 November Darwin L.V. (23) was rescued by agents from la Unidad Antisecuestros y Extorsiones (Unase) after being kidnapped on 27 October from a finca at La Pretoria, Montalvo, Los Rios. Nine suspects, including an ex-member of the specialist parachute commando were arrested. After gathering intelligence, Unase mounted a rescue operation on a house at Febres-Cordero, Babahoyo, Los Rios. The kidnappers had contacted the victim’s family and demanded a ransom of USD1.5 million against a threat to kill their victim if the money was not paid. The victim’s mother reported the incident to la Fiscalia.

8 November Dona Maria Teresa was rescued at Cumbai, Colombia, 37 days after being kidnapped in Tulcan and taken across the border into Colombia. Twenty five agents from la Unidad Antisecuestros y Extorsiones de la Policia (Unase) travelled to Colombia and worked closely for one month with the Colombian military to locate and rescue the victim. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s family and demanded USD2 million for her release. No ransom payment was made. Six people were arrested in connection with the kidnapping.

10 November According to figures released by la Unidad Antisecuestros y Extorsiones (Unase) de Delitos contra la Vida, Muertes Violentas, Desaparaciones, Extorsion y Secuestros (Dinased), in 2014 29 cases of kidnapping were reported in the country of these, 28 were resolved. From January to May in 2015, Dinased registered 56 cases of which 3 were kidnapping for ransom, 4 virtual kidnappings, 39 “secuestro expres” and 10 simple kidnappings. Since May there have been 15 recorded kidnappings.

Venezuela

7 November Three girls, Barbara Espinoza (19), daughter of Ramon Silva Torca, el comisario general del Cuerpo de Invetigaciones Cientificas, Penales y Criminalisticas (Cicpc), Astrid Torres (18) and Luis de Andrade (16), were kidnapped as they left a nightclub in Las Mercedes, Caracas, in the early hours of the morning. They were getting into a car when the kidnappers struck and forced them into their vehicle. The kidnappers contacted the parents of Astrid and Luis on a number of occasions with a ransom demand in USD. The girls’ parents contacted Ramon Silva Torca and the girls were released around midday on 8 November. The circumstances of the release were not revealed.

16 November Stefani Carolina Goncalves Nobrega (25), daughter of Jose Manuel Goncalves (56), a Portuguese businessman who owns a bakery, was killed in front of her father when both were fired upon at the main entrance of Quebrada de Cua, Miranda State. The two were travelling at 5:30am in a vehicle when a group of criminals followed their vehicle and tried to stop them in attempt to kidnap the businessman.

19 November According to a newspaper report, up to 8 November this year, 14 of the 57 kidnappings that were reported to la Division Contra Extorsion y Secuestro del Cicpc in Caracas were perpetrated by criminals who operate in la Cota 905, El Cementario, La Vega and El Paraiso. Criminologist Fermin Marmol Garcia said that the perception that there is an annual reduction in kidnapping incidents based on those reported to the Cicpc, is a false one. The real reason is that people are afraid to report kidnapping incidents. He added that in 2013 there were 359 kidnapping incidents reported and in 2014 the number reduced to 263 incidents. He estimated that kidnapping incidents had increased 60% in 2015.

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