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Kidnap & Ransom report – February 10, 2019


1. (TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, 07/02/19) Trinidad fishermen freed after ransom paid

Five abducted fishermen were released in the morning of 7 January after their families allegedly paid ransom to their Venezuelan kidnappers. A source close to the case affirmed the kidnapping was orchestrated by a Trinidadian man with links to Venezuelan criminals who are engaged in the trafficking of guns, drugs, and other illegal goods from Venezuela. The ransom was reportedly paid in two instalments. The first one, of USD 30,000 in cash, was paid via an intermediary, and resulted in the release of one of the six hostages on 30 January. The second payment, included cash, gold jewellery and boat engines, with a total value of approximately USD 60,000. This was sent to Venezuela on 2 February; however, the remaining five hostages were not immediately released as the kidnappers wanted to make sure that the gold and cash were not counterfeit. The six fishermen were kidnapped by a number of Venezuelans on six speedboats, armed with AK47 and AR15 guns, while fishing near the Venezuelan border. The kidnappers are believed to be members of a pirate gang, which controls the Manamo River in Venezuela. Interpol has received information on the gang, and is reportedly working with Venezuela’s National Guard to bring them to justice. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

2. (COLOMBIA, 08/02/19) ELN militants release army soldier kidnapped near Venezuela

On 7 February, a commission formed by the Ombudsman’s Office and the Catholic Church received a National Liberation Army (ELN) hostage at a rural area of the municipality or Villa Rosario, Norte de Santander department. Images distributed by the Ombudsman’s Office on social media showed the release of the man who was escorted by at least four masked militants. The conditions under which the release took place were not ascertained. Acevedo Torres was kidnapped in a seemingly targeted attack on 7 January 2019 in the same area, while he was on leave. The corporal was forced out of a bus by a number of militants riding bikes, who took him towards the border with Venezuela. FULL ARTICLE

3. (US, 08/02/19) Criminal gang targeting undocumented migrants dismantled in Florida

Three people, including a woman, have been arrested, accused of kidnapping, armed robbery and assault, it what may be part of a criminal scheme targeting undocumented immigrants, Davie county police said. The arrest was carried out after an illegal migrant reported he had been kidnapped. The incident took place in the evening of 2 February, when the female member of the gang approached the victim and asked him to give her a ride on his pickup truck. When he refused, the woman showed him a gun and a male accomplice opened the passenger side’s door. The two forced the man to drive to a trailer parking and forced him inside one of the home trailers, where they assaulted him, forcing him to surrender his money, valuables and bank cards’ access numbers. The victim was released after being threatened with death and deportation if he reported the incident to the police. Davie authorities believe this gang, led by the woman and including at least four more members, may have targeted undocumented migrants, as they were unlikely to report the crimes. FULL ARTICLE (1)

4. (COLOMBIA, 09/02/19) FARC dissidents planning crimes from Venezuela

The Colombian Attorney General, Nestor Humberto Martinez, said that several leaders of FARC dissident groups have found safe haven in Venezuela, from where they plan crimes that are committed in Colombia. According to Martínez, investigations showed that these high-ranking men are based in the municipality of La Victoria, in the Apure State of Venezuela, where they organise all sorts of criminal activities, including extortion, kidnapping, homicide, threats and robberies, which are mainly carried out in the department of Arauca, Colombia. This was discovered after the arrest of an operative known as “Muelas”, who reportedly crossed the border into Venezuela on a daily basis to receive instructions and later execute them in Colombia. Alias ​​”Muelas” is being investigated for the murder of policeman Jonathan Smith Sierra Suaza, who was kidnapped and killed last week in Arauca. He is also being linked to a recent bombing in Saravena. FULL ARTICLE


5. (SOUTH AFRICA, 09/02/19) Foreigners arrested for kidnapping of Ethiopian man

Six foreigners appeared in the Evander Magistrate’s Court on 1 February, accused in the kidnapping of an Ethiopian shop owner from Embalenhle, Mpumalanga province. The victim, Mr Tamre Seume, was abducted at gunpoint outside his shop on 23 January. He was held hostage for a week in Bekkersdal, Gauteng province. His kidnappers initially demanded a ZAR 3 million ransom (over USD 220,000) for his release, and threatened to kill him if this was not paid. The ransom was eventually negotiated down to ZAR 1 million (USD 74,000). Police was informed of the events and arrested a Zimbabwean woman and an Ethiopian man who showed up to collect the ransom. The victim was rescued on 30 January. Further investigations led to the arrest of a Ghanaian and two other Ethiopians. The mastermind of the kidnapping, a South African businessman who was a friend of the victim, was also arrested. The man had not been initially suspected as he had helped the family to raise the ransom money within their community. FULL ARTICLE


6. (MALAYSIA, 10/02/19) Wife of Malaysian hostage pleads with Malaysian authorities to negotiate with kidnappers

The wife of a Malaysian fisherman who was kidnapped from Malaysian waters last year, has appealed to the Malaysian authorities to rescue her husband. Nadin Junianti Najiri claimed she was contacted by one of the kidnappers, who told her no representatives from the Malaysian government had yet communicated with them to negotiate the release of her husband, Jari Abdullah. Najiri also claimed that the caller, who spoke in Malay language but not fluent, threatened that her husband would be in a ‘difficult’ situation if there was no negotiation with the Malaysian government. The man also allegedly demanded to be given the phone number of local reporters from Sabah. Najiri said that was the second time she was contacted by the kidnapers. Jari was kidnapped on 6 December 2018 along with two Indonesians colleagues while fishing at Pegasus Reef. A day earlier, an attempted attack on a vessel carrying 12 crewmembers – two Malaysians and 11 Indonesians – was reported at the same location. On that incident, all crewmembers were reported safe. Malaysian security forces said they are working with the Philippine’s authorities to rescue the kidnapped victims. FULL ARTICLE