AMERICA – NORTH

Mexico

6 September Federal Police officers working with agents from the National Migration Institute (INM) rescued 19 migrants, nine Hondurans, seven Nicaraguans, two Salvadorans and a Sri Lankan, who were being held captive at three houses in Nuevo Loredo, a city on the US border in the northeast. The operation was mounted after a tip off from members of the public. The kidnapping gang had demanded telephone numbers of relatives so arrangements could be made for the payment of ransoms after transporting the migrants from San Luis Potosi to Nuevo Laredo.

7 September During la Octava Reunion Seguridad Zona Sureste, Miguel Angel Osorio Chong, el secretario de Gobernacion (Segob), issued a communiqué in which he said kidnapping to date in 2015 had reduced by 60% in Tabasco and 50% in Veracruz thanks to the coordinated actions between the federal and state authorities. Arturo Nunez, Governor of Tabasco, said that between 2014 and 2015, 81 kidnapping gangs had been dismantled, 407 kidnappers arrested and 430 kidnapping victims rescued.

7 September Agents from la Policia Federal rescued an unnamed kidnapping victim, who had been kidnapped on 3 September, and arrested nine suspected kidnappers. The kidnapping gang had been operating in Iztapalapa and Azcapotzalco in el Distrito Federal, and Tecamac, Ecatepac de Morelos and Ixtapaluca in el Estado de Mexico. The gang are thought to have been involved in at least five other kidnapping cases between June 2014 and September 2015. They held their victims for between 50 and 70 days and made substantial ransom demands.

9 September The body of Rosa Fernandez (68), a businesswoman from Abasola, was found in a decomposed state by the side of road to Abasola. She had been kidnapped 24 days previously as she approached her ranch in the morning, a journey she undertook daily. Three men descended from a vehicle that blocked her car’s path and forced her into their vehicle. According to a close relative, a few hours later, the kidnappers contacted the victim’s family and demanded USD20 million for her release before reducing the demand to USD15 million and, after one week, to USD5 million. The kidnappers insisted on USD. The family paid the ransom but the kidnappers killed the victim. Three men were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping.

11 September During an interview with Radio Formula, the newly appointed Comisionada Nacional Antisecuestros, Patricia Bugarin, said she had identified ten priority states, among them Tamaulipas, Estado de Mexico, Veracruz, Morelos and Distrito Federal, in which to fight kidnapping and also that she would be seeking an early meeting with Isabel Miranda de Wallace of Alto al Secuestro. She said her qualifications for the job included working for 30 years in law and as the founder of la Procuraduria Antisecuestros in el Distrito Federal.

14 September La Procuraduria General de Justicia (PGJ) rescued an unnamed student (18) who had been kidnapped in Huauchinango, Puebla, and arrested six suspected members of a criminal gang from Veracruz, According to the authorities, on 5 September, the victim was in his car in Santa Dora, Puebla, when another car stopped in front of him and two armed men got out, threatened the victim and forced him into their vehicle. A short time later, one of the kidnappers speaking with a coastal accent, contacted the victim’s father on his cellular telephone and demanded a ransom of 5 million pesos (USD336,000). The family reported the kidnapping to the authorities. The PGJ managed to establish the location where the victim was being held and mounted a rescue operation.

16 September La Coordinacion Nacional Antisecuestro reported that during the first eight months of 2015 there had been 690 reported kidnappings compared with 1,013 over the same period in 2014, a reduction of 31.98%. The report also said that in August 2015 there were 62 reported incidents whereas in August 2014 there were 116 reported incidents showing a reduction of 46.55%.

19 September Juan Manuel Gomez Fernandez and Juan Manuel Gomez Monteverde, the father and brother of Mexican filmmaker, Alejandro Gomez Monteverde who directed “Little Boy” that opened in theatres in the US in April and is married to former Miss USA, Lily Landry, were found dead with severe head injuries in Pueblo Viejo, Veracruz, after being kidnapped on 4 September. According to one report, the two victims were travelling from their home in Tampico to their ranch in Veracruz when they were kidnapped. The family is reported to have made one ransom payment but, after receiving a further demand for a second payment, the family asked for Proof of Life (POL). There were no further communications from the kidnappers.

21 September Officials said that an American citizen, who had been kidnapped in Sullivan City, Texas, on 27 August and taken across the border into Mexico, had been rescued following a joint investigation by US officials and Mexican federal police. The unnamed man was rescued from a house in Las Arboledas, Reynosa. The kidnappers were demanding a “large sum” according to officials. One suspect was arrested.

21 September Isabel Miranda de Wallace, la presidenta de la associacion Alto al Secuestro, speaking at a conference at a hotel in Mexico City said that the number of kidnappings in the country had reduced by 21.5% between July and August 2015. She added that in August there were 138 reported kidnappings involving 175 victims showing the number of victims had reduced by 22.22%. For every 100,000 inhabitants, the entities with the most kidnappings were: Morelos, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Tabasco, Estado de Mexico, Zacatecas, Michoacan, Veracruz and el Distrito Federal. During the first eight months of 2015, there were1,197 reported kidnapping incidents compared with 1,708 over the same period in 2014, a reduction of 29.91%.

22 September The Procurator Generals of Tamaulipas and Estado de Mexico, Ismael Qunitanilla and Alejandro Gomez, denied that there were any instructions from any officials to “massage” kidnapping figures as has been suggested by Isabel Miranda de Wallace, la presidenta de Alto de Secuestro. Miranda de Wallace had suggested the previous day during a radio interview that the kidnapping statistics in the country had shown an improvement as some states had concealed or altered the true statistics.

23 September Edmundo Garrido Osorio, el Subprocurador de Averiguaciones Previas Centrales de la Procuraduria General de Justicia del Distrito Federal, stated that to date in 2015 there had been 31 (3.4 per month) reported kidnapping incidents compared with 60 cases (5 per month) in 2013 and 62 in 2014. In addition, 11 kidnapping gangs had been dismantled.

25 September El Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano (ONC) released figures obtained from la Coordinacion Nacional Antisecuestro (CONASE) for the number of deaths of kidnapping victims. Between December 2012 and March 2015, 320 kidnapping victims were killed in captivity. Of this total, 250 were men and 70 women. Around 60% of the kidnappings in which the victim died happened in five entities: Estado de Mexico (25%), Morelos (9.4%), Guerrero (8.8%), Veracruz (7.8%) and Tamaulipas (7.5%). In only 20% of the cases were suspects arrested. In 74% of the cases where the victim died, a ransom had been paid.

AMERICA – CENTRAL

Honduras

6 September Karen Marbeli Almendarez Ferrera (24) was kidnapped from the shop where she worked in Las Flores, Colon, by a group of men. The kidnappers believed she was the daughter of the owner of the shop who they contacted and demanded a ransom of Lempiras 6 million (USD280,000). The shop owner denied she was his daughter. The kidnappers then contacted the victim’s family in La Union, Olancho, and demanded the same amount but the family said they were unable to raise the money. On 13 September, the kidnappers shot the victim and left her body on the road near Cacho Way de Tocoa. Agents from la Direccion Policial de Investigacion (DPI) mounted an investigation and arrested one man on 17 September.

AMERICA – SOUTH

Brazil

2 September Criminals forced the brother of a bank manager in Catu, Salvador, to let them into the house where he lived with the bank manager and their mother. The three were held hostage overnight before the bank manager was taken to the bank and ordered to take all the money from the safe while the other two family members were taken to an unknown location. Employees in the bank noticed the bank manager was behaving in a strange manner and alerted the police at around 9:00am. The police searched the Catu region for the two missing relatives until they were informed at around 12:00am that the two had been released. The two had been forced to cover their faces with coats and did not see the faces of the criminals.

10 September Alexandre Ferreira Sousa, Treasurer of the Badesco Bank branch in Acailandia, 600km from Sao Luis, was held hostage in his residence along with his family by gunmen who forced an entry. While the family continued to be held hostage, he was forced to go to the bank as usual the following morning. In the late morning, he left the bank with Reias 200,000 (USD62,000). He then returned to the bank to await a telephone call from the kidnappers telling him where to find his family. He told the Bank Manager what had happened at this stage. In the late afternoon, the family were left by the kidnappers on a highway about four kilometres from Acailandia.

15 September The Manager of a branch of the Bank of Lagoa Santa in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte was kidnapped along with his family. The following morning, the criminals separated the Manager from his family and took him to his bank and told him to withdraw money if he wanted his family back. He managed to raise the alarm and the military police (PM) were alerted and went to the bank. The criminals fled and the Manager’s family were later found in a wooded area.

25 September Douglas Wilson Ramos (28), Manager of a cement store in Cuiaba, was kidnapped by armed men who came to the business site, robbed the workers of their valuables before forcing him into the trunk of his car and driving away. Four days after the incident, the family still had not received any ransom demand.

Colombia

18 September The authorities stated that Ramon Jose Cabrales, the senior government minister for Ocana province, Norte de Santander, had been kidnapped sixteen days previously. The Gaula were believed to be working on the theory that the kidnapping was carried out by criminals working for the ELN guerrilla group that has connections with Venezuelan criminals. La Defensora del Pueblo issued an alert stating that eight kidnapping incidents had been reported in la Provincia de Ocana, Norte de Santander, to date in 2015. The latest incident was the previous day when a 17 year old college student was kidnapped in El Carmen while travelling on a bus to play football.

23 September The fifth International Congress in the Fight against Kidnapping and Extortion took place in Medellin. It was attended by the leaders of anti-kidnapping and anti-extortion groups from many countries. The aim was to exchange ideas employed by various official bodies in fighting the crimes and to learn from the practical experience such groups have had

Venezuela

13 September Jose Antonio Castro Costa and Roxana Catalan Padron, well known business people in Puerto Ordaz, were kidnapped by armed men as they travelled to a meeting of la Fundacion Rotary in Puerto Ordaz. The kidnappers contacted their families by telephone and demanded a substantial ransom for their release against a threat to kill the two victims if the ransom was not paid. The families believed there was no other option than to pay and the two victims were released after the payment having been held for five hours.

22 September The authorities found the body of an unnamed 52 year old Portuguese merchant who owned two shops selling Deli in Los Rosales, Caracas, in a forest area near the town of Los Serruchos, Charalleve, Miranda State. The victim had been kidnapped the previous evening in Charalleve, about 50kms south of Caracas, while returning home. The kidnappers would have asked a high ransom.

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