AMERICA – NORTH

Mexico

13 October During an appearance before el Congreso local, Hidalgo, Alejandro Straffon Ortiz, el procurador de Justicia del estado, said that, to date in 2015, there had been 19 reported kidnappings involving 27 victims. Of the victims, 25 had been released and two remain in captivity. In addition, 14 kidnapping for ransom gangs had been disbanded resulting in the arrest of 55 suspects. Amongst the suspects were people who originated from el Distrito Federal, Estado de Mexico and Puebla.

17 October During a press conference in Puebla, the head of la Procuraduria General de Justicia en el Estado de Puebla, said that an unnamed American female had been rescued after being kidnapped on 9 October in the municipality of Chiautla de Tapia. She was with her cousin when they were confronted by armed men. The kidnappers abandoned the cousin nearby but took the American woman with them. The following day, the family received a telephone call with a ransom demand of 500,000 pesos (USD33,500). The family filed a denuncia with la Direccion General de Atencion a Delitos de Alto Impacto (DGADA) and an investigation was initiated. The authorities located the house in Axochiapan, Morelos State, where the victim was being held. La PGJ de Puebla cooperated with la Fiscalia de Morelos and a rescue operation was mounted. Four suspects were arrested.

17 October La Policia Federal rescued four kidnapping victims after locating a house in El Coyol, Veracruz, where the victims were being held. The four victims had been kidnapped several weeks earlier and had been held naked, with their hands handcuffed behind their backs and blindfolded. They were also beaten repeatedly. The police mounted the operation after learning that the kidnappers were going to kill one of the victims. Two suspects were arrested during the operation.

19 October Sonia de la Garza, Fiscal General del Estado de Durango, said that only four cases of kidnapping had been reported to date in 2015. This showed a decrease from 2014 when 10 cases were reported. She added that in 2010 there were 58 reported cases.

21 October During la Reunion Regional de Justicia y Seguridad Publica organised by the government of Tamaulipas State and held in Ciudad Madero, the governors of the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz and San Luis Potosi signed an agreement to combat kidnapping and extortion. The cooperation will be the responsibility of the respective Coordinaciones Estatales Antisecuestros such as la Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional, Armada de Mexico, Policia Militar, Policia Federal and procuradurias Generales de Justicia y de la Republica.

22 October Patricia Bugarin, la coordinadora nacional Antisecuestro, stated that between January and September the number of reported kidnappings had reduced by 30,63%, or 340 cases, when compared to the same period in 2014. There were 770 reported cases compared to 1,110 in 2014. She denied the claim from Alto al Secuestro that the reduction was due to some cases being recorded as extortions instead of kidnappings. She added that, in September, there were 78 reported cases compared to 97 in 2014 a reduction of 19.58%.

22 October La Fiscalia General del Estado de Chihuahua paraded Nallely Cedillo Sanchez, originally from el Distrito Federal but who moved to Chihuahua in 2012, who is accused of being involved in the kidnapping of Chinese restaurant owners in Chihuahua city. In 2015, the suspect avoided being arrested by la Unidad Modelo Antisecuestro when they disbanded “Los Bustillos” kidnapping gang. “Los Bustillos” are suspected of having been involved in the kidnapping of at least 42 people mainly owners and employees of Chinese restaurants.

25 October La Procuraduria General de Justicia de Puebla gave details about two kidnapping incidents involving three victims that had taken place in the northern region of the state. On 17 October at approximately 6:00pm, two sisters aged 58 and 68 years left their small farm near San Agustin, Atilhuacan, Xicotepec de Juarez, by vehicle. The road was blocked and the two were kidnapped by armed men. After taking the two victims to a house, the kidnappers released one on the understanding she would raise a ransom of 3 million pesos (USD201,600) for the release of her sister. On 19 October, the family reported the incident to the authorities. On analysing the information, the authorities realised the incident was similar to one in August in which the victim was killed in spite of the family paying two ransoms. After locating the safe house of the kidnappers, the security forces mounted a rescue operation. In the incident in August, the victim was a 38 year old businessman living at Juan Galindo, Puebla. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of 5 million pesos (USD336.000). The family paid a total of 342,800 pesos (USD23,000) but the victim was killed.

26 October Isabel Miranda de Wallace, la presidenta de la asociacion Alto al Secuestro, said that the monthly figures for kidnapping that Alto al Secuestro announce are official figures and not the association’s figures as claimed by Miguel Angel Mancera, el jefe de Gobierno del Distrito Federal. She added that from 1 December 2012 to 30 September 2015 there were 521 kidnappings in la Ciudad de Mexico, of that number 68.3% were identified by PGR and 31.6% by PGJDF.

AMERICA – CENTRAL

Panama

24 October Rodrigo Meron, former player and technical director of Panama Metro baseball team, recounted to TVN Noticias his experience of being the victim of a “secuestro expres” on 23 October. At approximately 10:45pm he returned to his residence after a dinner and was parking his wife’s car when he was confronted by a man with a gun. The man said “keep quiet or I will kill you” and hit him on his head. He then saw there were two other men in a vehicle nearby. They demanded he hand over money.

AMERICA – SOUTH

Argentina

11 October An ex-Chinese national known by the initials SSW and an alias of “Leandro” was arrested along with eight other suspects in connection with the kidnapping of a 17 year old Chinese whose name could not be released on legal grounds. The victim is the son of the owner of a supermarket in Barrio Parque San Martin, Merlo. The kidnappers initially demanded a ransom of 1,000,000 pesos (USD113,000) plus USD100,000 but released the victim after his father paid 700,000 pesos (USD79,450) plus USD30,000 as the ransom. “Leandro” knew the victim well and had a close friendship with the victim’s father.

Brazil

5 October The wife and three children of the Branch Manager of the Bank of Brazil in Luis Eduardo, Western Bahia, were released after being abducted on 4 October along with the Manager. The criminals entered the family home around 9:00pm and held the family hostage all the night. In the morning, the Manager was taken to the bank while his family remained with the criminals. After the Manager had handed over the money the criminals fled in a pickup. His family were released at around 11:00am in St. Desiderius.

14 October The Treasurer of a branch of Banco do Brazil in Presidente Dutra, east-central region of Maranhao, was kidnapped by four armed men as he returned home at around 9:30pm. They took the victim into his house where his wife and son were and held the three victims in a room. Neighbours saw the incident and reported it to the police who surrounded the house. The kidnappers escaped with the Treasurer and his son but, as a result of police pressure, the kidnappers released the two hostages at around 11:00pm in Graca Aranha, about 36 kilometres from Presidente Dutra.

16 October A bank manager was kidnapped by four criminals as he left for work in Cabo de Santo Agostinho, Recife. One of the gang accompanied the victim to the bank branch while the other three waited outside. Under the threat of death, the manager was forced to collect all the money from boxes and the vaults. According to the police, the gang had rented a house near the manager’s residence and had been monitoring his routine.

Colombia

4 October A communique issued by el Comando de la Tercera Brigada del Ejercito Nacional, stated that Diego Alexis Figueroa (21), an University undergraduate, was kidnapped along with two workers from his father’s finca in the north of Cauca during the morning. The three victims were forced into a vehicle by seven armed men.

10 October La senora Gloria Amparo Montilla (62) was rescued after an investigation by el Grupo Gaula Militar Valle Avanzada Cauca and el Cuerpo Tecnico de Investigacion CTI Fiscalia. The victim had been kidnapped from her finca located in la Vereda San Rafael, Tulua, Valle, by four armed members a criminal gang operating in Valle de Cauca, Cauca and Narino on 10 March 2015. They drove her away in one of her vehicles. The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of 1000 million pesos (USD395,500) for her release. Once her location had been established during the investigation, troops from la Tercera Brigada and Vigesima Novena Brigada del Ejercito Nacional mounted a successful rescue operation and arrested one member of the kidnapping gang. The victim was found in an underground cell measuring one metre by 1 ½ metres and about 2 metres below ground level covered by bricks and sacks of fertiliser. Food and drink was supplied down a PBC tube which also acted as the only means of communication between the kidnappers and their victim.

27 October Luis Carlos Villegas, Minister for Defence, confirmed that two soldiers were kidnapped by the guerrilla group, el Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN), the previous day after an attack on a military patrol in Guican, Boyaca Department, near the border with Venezuela. Twelve soldiers and a policeman were killed during the attack. The Minister added that to date in 2015, 367 members of the ELN had been “neutralised” of which 113 had been demobilised, 212 captured and 42 killed.

Ecuador

25 October Three adults and one youth were arrested by la Policia Nacional in Manta suspected of being involved in the kidnapping for ransom of a 20 year old man on 16 October. The kidnappers contacted the victim’s mother on 17 October and demanded a ransom of USD10,000. The police broke into a house where they found the victim.

Paraguay

31 October Members of the Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP) guerrilla group attempted to kidnap Christopher Edward, administrator of the Aguerito ranch, and Rafael Medina, a ranch worker, from the ranch at Aguerito, Horqueta, Concepcion Department. The would be kidnappers were repelled when the two men shot back at them. The exchange of fire alerted other workers who immediately came to the help of the two men. The kidnapping attempt was made as the Administrator was crossing the river by raft. EPP are still holding Edelio Morinigo, a suboficial, who has been in captivity for 484 days, and Abrahan Fehr, a menonite settler, who was kidnapped on 8 August 2015 and for whom a ransom demand of USD500,000 has been made.

Venezuela

15 October Kidnappers entered the home in Araguaney of Lorenzo Martin Duarte Figueira (34), a Portuguese national and a businessman in the dairy sector, in the evening and, after taking items of value, kidnapped the Portuguese and drove him away in his car. The police were alerted and immediately started a search. Early on the morning of 16 October, the victim’s body was found bound and with several bullet wounds. Two men and a woman aged between 21 and 23 years were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the crime.

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