Kidnap & Ransom Update April 29, 2018
29-Apr-18

AMERICAS

1. (MEXICO, 24/04/18) Kidnapped film students announced dead
On 23 April, Mexican authorities revealed details from their investigations on the disappearance of three Mexican university students las month, while filming a school project near Guadalajara, Jalisco State. The last time they were seen alive, they were being forced into a car by two armed men dressed as police officers. After they were abducted, the film students were interrogated and tortured before they were killed. Later, their bodies were dissolved in acid, the attorney general’s office in Jalisco said in a news conference. The students, who authorities say had no connection to any criminal gangs, found themselves inadvertently embroiled in an ongoing cartel conflict, in which members of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, may have confused them with members of a rival drug cartel. FULL ARTICLE (1)

2. (ECUADOR, 24/04/18) Kidnapped Filipina rescued in Guayaquil
During a raid, Ecuadorian police recovered a kidnapped woman of Philippine nationality. The search operation was carried out by the Ecuadorian Anti-kidnapping Unit of the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office, with the presence of the Philippine Consul in Ecuador. According to the police investigation, the 23-year-old foreigner had been missing since her arrival in Ecuador in December 2017. The rescue operation was organized once the woman’s relatives in the Philippines reported the kidnapping to the Philippine police, who in turn contacted their Ecuadorian counterparts. The report was made after the family received messages from the woman on social media, where she stated she had been kidnapped. FULL ARTICLE

3. (MEXICO, 25/04/18) Kidnappers of Colombian expats arrested
Mexican police detained five people suspected in the kidnapping of four Colombians last December in the Caribbean beach resort of Cancún. The arrests were made in two different operations in the Mexican capital and in Cancún. Among the arrested are three local government officials from Cancún. The arrested reportedly abducted the four Colombians on 18 December 2017, and later handed them over to the Cancun Cartel. One of the victims was later found dead and the rest were freed after a member of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) reportedly negotiated their release. It is believed the kidnapped Colombians were part of a loan shark group, who paid the CJNG right-to-operate fees as well as fees for protection against other criminal groups. The said CJNG negotiator, reportedly did not pay the ransom he received from the family to pay the Cancun Cartel, MXP 80,000 (USD 4,300), resulting in the dead of one of the hostages, three days after the kidnapping. FULL ARTICLE

4. (JAMAICA, 25/04/18) Kidnappers free five in Westmoreland after ransom payment
Kidnappers in Westmoreland, western Jamaica, released five people on 25 April after a ransom was reportedly paid. The victims included three women, a male and the seven-year-old daughter of one of the women, according to detectives assigned to the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Counter-Terrorism and Organized Crime Branch (C-TOC). According to police reports, at about 3:00 am, armed men invaded the victims’ homes in the Galloway district of Westmoreland and robbed the occupants before taking them hostage. The husband of one of the victims was injured during the incident. Hours later, the hostages were released after a sum of J$125,000 (USD 1,000) was paid to the kidnappers. Police have launched an operation to find the perpetrators. FULL ARTICLE

MIDDLE EAST

5. (IRAQ, 24/04/18) Chief of Iraq’s boxing federation kidnapped near Baghdad
On 24 April, masked gunmen kidnapped the chief of Iraq’s boxing federation and vice-president of its Olympics Committee, seizing him from his car, south of Baghdad. On board of a convoy of five off-road vehicles, the group comprising around 20 masked men wearing military uniforms, abducted Bashar Mustafa at a fake checkpoint near the bridge in Musayyib. Mustafa was released on 25 April, just hours after his abduction. Although no details were released on the motives behind the abduction, the incident took place in the context of allegations on a campaign targeting Popular Mobilization Forces members in disputed Kurdish areas. It is believed that the victim may have been used as a bargaining chip in the conflict. FULL ARTICLE (1)

6. (LEBANON, 29/04/18) Israeli forces kidnap Lebanese citizens in south Lebanon
The Israeli army kidnapped a Lebanese female from a location near the Lebanese southern border, the Lebanese official news agency reported on 28 April. Reportedly, an Israeli army force set an ambush outside the border line near Shebaa, and kidnapped a female citizen, taking her inside occupied Palestine, the agency said. The Lebanese army is coordinating with the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon to release the victim. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

7. (MOZAMBIQUE, 23/04/18) Police rescue Indian kidnap victim
The Mozambican police said they rescued on 22 April an Indian businessman who was kidnapped in Maputo the previous evening. The businessman was seized together with a friend as they were leaving the casino in the Gloria Hotel, on the Maputo coast road, at about 03.00 on 21 April. The three armed masked men threw the friend out of their car and then drove the businessman to a house in the neighborhood of Triunfo. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of 10 million meticais (about USD 166,500) on the same morning, threatening to kill the hostage if it was not paid. The police rescued the victim the next morning, following a report made by the businessman’s friend, three hours after the incident. The police were suspicious of the three hour gap and thus launched an investigation on the “friend”. After interrogation, the man confessed to planning the kidnapping and having lured the businessman into a trap, stating that he later recanted and led the police to the house in Triunfo. FULL ARTICLE (1)

8. (LIBYA, 25/04/18) Libyan military prosecutor escapes from kidnappers
On 25 April, Libyan military prosecutor Masoud Erhuma managed to escape along with two other victims after more than a month in captivity. Erhuma had been held in a farm on the outskirts of the capital Tripoli. Erhuma’s family did not provide further details on the identity or demands of the kidnappers. Masoud Erhuma was kidnapped with two of his companions near his family’s home by an unknown armed group in March. FULL ARTICLE

9. (NIGERIA, 25/04/18) Ship owner receives PoL from abducted crew
Dutch shipping company ForestWave reported on 25 April that contact has been established with the crew of the FWN RAPIDE, who were taken hostage off Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on 21 April. The company confirmed that all the eleven seafarers are alive and together. ForestWave said the continue doing everything possible to secure the earliest release of its seafarers which remains its absolute priority. The families of those being held are being informed regularly about the situation. FULL ARTICLE

10. (SOUTH AFRICA, 26/04/18) Body of British man allegedly abducted by IS found
The decomposing body of Rodney Saunders, a British/South African man who was allegedly abducted alongside his wife by an Islamic State-linked group, has been found in the Tugela River. According to the local police, the body was found on 16 February, six days after their kidnapping. However, the body had not been identified as it was unrecognizable. It was until March, when one of the suspects in the case confessed that the bodies had been thrown in the Tugela River, that the police linked the body to Sounders. DNA tests are underway to have full confirmation of the identity of the body. Meanwhile, a devoted crew continues to look for the body of Rachel Sounders in the river. The motives of the kidnapping remain undisclosed. FULL ARTICLE (1)

11. (SOUTH SUDAN, 26/04/18) Ten aid workers abducted in Central Equatoria
Alain Noudehou, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, said that U.N. staff and several aid workers were kidnapped as they were heading to Tore from Yei, in the Central Equatoria region, early on 25 April. The whereabouts of the ten, all South Sudanese nationals, are unknown. Noudehou said the missing people included one person working for UNOCHA, two for UNICEF, one for the South Sudanese Development Organisation, two for aid group ACROSS, three for Plan International and one for Action Africa Help. Noudehou said this was the second abduction of aid workers in April and the third in six months. Earlier on the week, the International Committee of the Red Cross said it had suspended operations in Leer after their field base was shot at on 10 April. It evacuated its staff to the South Sudanese capital Juba. Additionally, in mid-April, rebels said they had freed seven aid workers detained for nearly three weeks in Central Equatoria on accusations of spying for the government. FULL ARTICLE

12. (NIGERIA, 28/04/18) Kidnapped South Korean sailors released
Three South Korean sailors who were kidnapped by pirates off Ghana a month ago were released unharmed, South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-Yeon announced on 27 April. It is unclear whether a ransom was paid in exchange for their release, although the ministry said negotiations had been underway. Pirates seized the Marine 711 on 26 March, with its crew of 40 Ghanaians and three South Koreans. The pirates captured the three South Koreans – the captain, the second and the master mechanic – and fled aboard a speed boat towards Nigerian waters. South Korean media, citing the South Korean army, reported that the pirates had been identified as Nigerian nationals. Following the abduction, South Korea deployed a military vessel in the area. FULL ARTICLE (1)

ASIA

13. (PAKISTAN, 24/04/18) Kidnappings in Pakistan being controlled from Afghanistan
According to local media citing police sources, a number of kidnappings for ransom in Pakistan are being orchestrated by criminal networks based in Afghanistan. The police said the information is based on recent kidnapping cases in Karachi, which have revealed how these criminal networks carry out their activities – from the delivery of ransom to handover of hostages – from across the border. The first such incident was recorded in January 2016, when the 11-year-old son of a businessman was abducted in Karachi, and his release was secured from the Afghan city Besh Mandi with the payment of Rs10 million (USD 86,500 today). FULL ARTICLE

14. (MALAYSIA, 25/04/18) Fishermen rescued from attempted kidnapping by pirates
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) rescued a local fishing boat from an attempted robbery and kidnapping in the waters off Batu Pahat on the evening of 24 April. After receiving a distress call at 7pm, the MMEA deployed a patrol boat and rushed to the site, about 15 nautical miles southwest off Tg. Laboh, Batu Pahat. The five Indonesian pirates, who were armed with machetes and guns, approached on a wooden boat and ordered the fishing boat JHF 2529 into Indonesian waters. With the assistance of Indonesian authorities, the boat was released at 1am on 25 April. Based on initial investigations, the robbers had demanded a ransom of RM30,000 (USD 7,700) before the authorities showed up at the scene. The MMEA has recorded seven similar cases in the same area since 2017. FULL ARTICLE (1)

15. (AZERBAIJAN, 28/04/18) Gülenist businessman abducted in Baku
Turkish police has confirmed that Turkish businessman Mustafa Ceyhan, who was kidnapped on 28 April by a group of eight people in front of a courthouse in Baku, was flown to Turkey early on 29 April. Upon his forceful return to Turkey, Ceyhan was put in pre-trial detention by an İstanbul court on terror charges. Ceyhan had been in pre-trial detention in Azerbaijan for almost a year, on charges of illegally crossing to Azerbaijan. Mr. Ceyhan is believed to be affiliated with the Gülen group, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a coup attempt in 2016. FULL ARTICLE