AMERICA – NORTH
8 September According to the monthly kidnapping report produced by las Agencias del Ministerio Publico, July was the first month since December 2013 during which there were no reported kidnapping incidents in Coahuila State. The total number of reported kidnappings this year to the end of July was 14 which showed a decrease from the 16 incidents over the same period in 2013. The figure of 14 cases for the year to date compares favourably with the 340 reported incidents in Tamaulipas State, the state with the highest number of reported incidents to the end of July this year.
9 September During the first meeting of el Grupo de Coordinacion Tamaulipas since the start of la Estrategia de Seguridad de Tamaulipas on 13 May 2014, the Commander of la primera Zona Naval, Vice Admiral Fernando Arturo Castanon Zamacona, said that la Marina Armada de Mexico had freed 645 kidnapping victims. However, el Procurador General de Justicia de Tamaulipas, Ismael Quintanilla Acosta, admitted that the number of kidnapping incidents had increased over the period. He added that telephone extortion incidents had also increased. He urged citizens to call the dedicated number, 088, to report all kidnapping and extortion incidents. He emphasised that all calls to this number would be treated with strict confidentiality.
9 September Juan Carlos Marin, brother in law of Jose Manuel Mireles, founder of the armed civilian movement, las autodefensas en Mexico, was kidnapped in Michoacan. It is believed that the criminal group, “Los Caballeros Templarios” is responsible. Las autodefensas are fighting the criminal group.
10 September The Morelos State Attorney General’s office said that they had arrested three people who were using acid to dissolve the body of a man who had been kidnapped and killed. Jose Carmen Ortiz Villanueva was kidnapped on 7 September. A caller alerted the AG’s office when he saw three men leading a bound and hooded man into a house in Tetecala. The police raided the house and found three men standing around a barrel filled with acid with a body in it. Acid has been used before in January 2009 when police in Baja California arrested Santiago Meza, a hired killer, who admitted having dissolved in acid the bodies of about 300 people killed on the orders of Tijuana drug cartel boss Teodoro Eduardo Garcia Simental.
15 September At a press conference attended by various civil organisations fighting the scourge of kidnapping, Francisco Rivas, director of el Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano de Mexico, said that the profile of targets of kidnapping had changed from the Middle and Upper Middle classes to encompass manual workers who for who ransoms as little as 500 pesos (USD38.00) are asked. He added that the most likely targets are still the Middle and Upper Middle classes, men rather than women and an age range of 30 to 50 years old. Although there were 1,698 reported kidnapping incidents in the country during 2013, the authorities accept that the real figure could be more than 105,000. There were 157 reported cases in October 2013, the highest monthly figure since 1997. Between January and July 2014, there have been 909 reported incidents countrywide.
16 September Marguerite Cawley, an analyst with InSight Crime, said that, from her investigations, Mexico is the “Kidnapping Capital” of the World at present. According to figures released by el Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publica (SNSP), in 2005, there were 278 reported kidnapping incidents. That number had grown to 1,698 reported incidents in 2013, an increase of 16% over 2012. This represented a sevenfold increase over six years.
22 September During a press conference, Isabel Miranda de Wallace, President of Alto al Secuestro, said that there had been a decrease of 0.5% in the reported kidnapping incidents in August (182) when compared to the figure for July (183). El Sistema Nacional de Seguridad Publico registered 106 incidents in August. Alto al Secuestro also provided the following figures by state for the period 1 December 2012 to 31 August 2014: Estado de Mexico (982), Tamaulipas (483), Guerrero (447), Morelos (443), Distrito Federal (333), Veracruz (290), Michoacan (261), Tabasco (211), Jalasco (112), Oaxaca (93) and Nuevo Leon (880).
AMERICA – CENTRAL
2 September A spokesman for la Policia Nacional Civil (PNC) informed reporters that agents from el Ministerio Publico (MP) had arrested three people suspected of being involved in a kidnapping gang operating in Quetzaltenango. The arrested men are believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of a 14 year old girl on 22 August and demanding a ransom of Q200,000 (USD29,850). The victim was killed. The gang kidnapped youths aged between 13 and 16 years from various regions and took them back to Quetzaltenango from where they contacted the families and demanded a ransom for the victim’s release.
AMERICA – SOUTH
7 September The police reported that three men and a woman aged between 22 and 27 years had been arrested in connection with the kidnapping of Segundo Tevez, father of footballer Carlos Tevez, in July. According to press reports, the family paid a ransom of 600,000 pesos (USD71,000). Of the four people arrested, two of them are a Paraguayan brother and sister. The group were apparently planning to rob Segundo Tevez but demanded a ransom for his release after discovering he was the father of the footballer.
11 September Police arrested two men who were suspected of being members of a “secuestro expres” gang that operated in Ituazingo and are accused of being involved in at least five kidnapping incidents during the past three months. Three other members of the gang are being sought. The gang “ambushed” drivers using two cars and held them captive while they negotiated a ransom payment of 50,000 pesos (USD6,250). If a family offered less, the gang would accept the lower amount.
24 September According to Daniel Adler, CEO de Controllers, there are more than 600 kidnapping incidents each year in the country. The authorities have indicated 200 kidnapping incidents are reported annually and this represents about 35% of kidnapping incidents.
18 September The family of a bank manager in Petrolina de Goais, 77 kms from Goiania, were kidnapped by a group of 10 people during the night. The police refused to release further details for fear of endangering the lives of the family as the investigation is ongoing.
4 September Juan Carlos Pinzon, Minister of Defence, said in a press release that the FARC guerrilla group had kidnapped 261 women between 2003 and 2014 and had also assassinated 394 over the same period.
4 September Ricardo Montano and Jorge Parrado, businessmen, were kidnapped in the north of Cauca department while travelling from Manizales to Puerto Tejada for a business meeting. A spokesman indicated that the families of the two men had received ransom demands for their release.
16 September According to figures released jointly by the Police and Military Gaulas, to date in 2014 164 people have been kidnapped in the country. Of these, FARC and ELN are responsible for 37, drug cartels are responsible for six incidents and common criminals the remainder. The security forces have rescued 73 hostages, 14 remain kidnapped, a further 14 have been killed by their kidnappers and five managed to escape. FARC denounced kidnapping at the Peace Process in Cuba but statistics show they have not kept to their word.
26 September During the presentation of Balances de Seguridad, President Juan Manuel Santos said there had been a small rise in the number of kidnapping incidents to date in 2014 compared to the same period in 2013. He added the number of reported cases in 2014 is 126 compared with 123 in 2013. He asked police commanders to pay special attention to this issue.
27 September The subcomandante de Policia in Cesar said that guerrilla groups are reverting to kidnapping to strengthen their finances as a result of the authorities operations against drug cultivation. To date this year eight people have been kidnapped by either the guerrillas or criminal groups in a department where kidnapping had almost died out. Four of the eight victims are still being held by their kidnappers.
30 September The Police announced a 92% reduction in kidnappings between 2000 and 2013. The decrease was attributed to “modern interception equipment”, the creation of specialist anti kidnapping Gaula groups, a special training school and an intelligence centre for personal freedom. The number of recorded kidnappings in 2013 was 299 compared to 3,572 in 2000.
30 September The police reported the suspected kidnapping of Luis Ernesto Lopez Sandoval, a businessman, about ten kilometres along the road between Riohacha and Valledupar. The victim was apparently visiting a finca he owns in the area.
4 September Agents from la Brigada Anticriminal de la Policia Nacional arrested four members of a gang that had been dedicated to “secuestro expres” based outside a centro commercial in the north of Guayaquil. The gang used yellow taxis to trap their victims. A police agent said that the taxis had been adapted to provide a hidden space where weapons and stolen goods could be stored.
19 September Roberto Moreno, el fiscal especializado contra el Crimen Organizado, said that a “creole gang” was behind at least three kidnapping incidents in the country including that of a businessman of Asian descent in Chilibre for whom a ransom demand of USD100,000 was made. He added that four members of the gang, three adults and a youth, all Panamanian citizens, had been arrested and were now under interrogation. The gang have targeted businessmen in the central provinces as well as Panama Norte. More operations are being carried out to arrest others who belong to the gang.
21 September Arlan Flick (16), son of Brazilian farmer Alcido Flick, was kidnapped by guerrillas belonging to the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) on 2 April near Concepcion, in the north of the country. The family say they paid the USD500,000 ransom demand on 12 April but their son has not been released. The EPP then demanded the family distribute USD50,000 in food aid to the villages of Arroyito and Nueva Foruna. The EPP are now demanding the release of EPP leaders imprisoned in Asuncion as a condition for the victim’s release.
27 September The police arrested two Brazilians in connection with the kidnapping of businessman Hernique Rodrigues Garcia (25) who was abducted while leaving his house with his father and brother. The incident happened close to el lago de la Republica the previous evening around 7:00pm. The hostage was rescued the following day at midday in Yguazu, Ciudad del Este. The kidnappers had contacted the family with a ransom demand of USD200,000 which they later reduced to USD100,000.
8 September Vitalia Lopez, wife of the Mayor of Urdaneta, Aragua State, was kidnapped during the evening along with her chauffeur when the car she was travelling in was blocked by another car. The chauffeur was released and the kidnappers contacted the victim’s husband with a ransom demand of a “substantial amount”. The victim was released at approximately 3:00am on 9 September. It is not known if her release was after the ransom was paid or as a result of police pressure on the kidnappers.
9 September Nelson Gonzalez, a member of the Party “Redes”, was kidnapped in Achuaga, Apure. Armed men kidnapped him from a restaurant where he was eating a meal. It has not been established whether the motive was financial or political.