Kidnap & Ransom update August 20, 2018
20-Aug-18

AMERICAS

1. (MEXICO, 17/08/18) Child freed after 18 days in captivity in Ecatepec
Police freed a child after his abduction from a church in July. On 22 July, armed men entered a church in San Carlos, Ecatepec, and robbed all attendants of their belongings. During the attack, they also abducted a child and his mother. The victims’ family then received a telephone call from the perpetrators, demanding a ransom for their release. After negotiations were held with the kidnappers, the 33-yeard-old mother was released on 29 July, though it is unknown if a ransom was paid. Further ransom calls were made for the release of the child, with the kidnappers also issuing threats to harm the child should no payment be forthcoming. Police launched an investigation into the kidnapping, identifying the assailants in the San Cristobal area of Ecatepec. When attempting to arrest two members of the criminal gang, they opened fire on police. One was shot and injured in the leg whilst the other fled aboard a motorcycle. The detained suspect disclosed the location of the kidnapped child, whom police subsequently rescued on Lopez Portillo Avenue. The boy was found bandaged on his left hand with part of his little finger missing. The mutilation is believed to have been conducted to force through a ransom payment from the child’s family. The suspect that was arrested has also been linked to other kidnappings involving mutilations. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

2. (MEXICO, 17/08/18) Kidnapped Mexican congresswoman released
The newly elected Mexican congresswoman, Norma Azucena Rodríguez Zamora, who was kidnapped at gunpoint on the Mexico City – Tuxpan highway in central Hidalgo state on 14 August, was returned home safely on 16 August. The governor of Veracruz, Miguel Angel Yunes, stated that the kidnapping was not politically motivated, but rather financial. Yunes however declined to detail how the victim was released. Nevertheless, it is assessed as likely that a ransom was paid given that governor confirmed the kidnappers abducted Zamora for extortion purposes. FULL ARTICLE

3. (MEXICO, 17/08/18) Young entrepreneur reportedly kidnapped in Coahuila
Local sources reported the kidnap of a 25-year-old businessman from his residence in San José de los Cerritos on 15 August. The three kidnappers allegedly broke into the victim’s home and abducted the man in his own truck. This was later discovered by police between Saltillo and Arteaga, from where it is believed the criminals changed vehicles. Local sources also reported that the kidnappers have demanded a ransom of 400,000 pesos (USD 21,149) for the victim’s release. FULL ARTICLE (1)

4. (TRINIDAD & TOBAGO, 17/08/18) Kidnap victim released without ransom payment
Two men pretending to be police officers kidnapped Kenny Soogrim, a father-of-two, from his home in La Brea on 13 August. They subsequently called his family and demanded a ransom of USD 50,000 for his release. Relatives instead contacted the police, who found Soogrim in an abandoned shack in Mayaro on 15 August. According to reports, no money was exchanged with the perpetrators for the victim’s release. Police are currently seeking two suspects involved in the kidnapping. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

5. (NIGERIA, 20/08/18) Kidnapping on the rise in Rivers State
There have been several kidnapping reports in Rivers State over August, indicating an increase in banditry in the region. On 15 August, four women were kidnapped along the Owerri-Port Harcourt express road in the Ikwerre Local Government Area, while another woman was abducted following a fake employment opportunity in the Etche Local Government Area. She had reportedly been offered work at the local government council, where she was kidnapped by unknown armed men upon her arrival at the building. At present, the whereabouts of the victims is unknown and contact is yet to be established with the perpetrators. Prior to this, police rescued two kidnap victims on 12 August who had been kidnapped in different locations of Rivers State earlier in the month. FULL ARTICLE

6. (NIGERIA, 18/08/18) Police rescue INEC worker and eight others
On 18 August, police in the Etim Ekpo and Ukanafun Local Government Areas of Akwa Ibom conducted a series of raids against suspected kidnappers and released nine victims. In a campaign entitled ‘Operation Purge’, security forces rescued an employee of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Otobong Ukpong, who was kidnapped on 5 June, along with a child and seven other civilians. Ukpong claimed his abductors took him to unknown wooded area and fed him once a day. During the security operation, police recovered bulletproof vests, police and military uniforms, and live ammunition. FULL ARTICLE

7. (NIGERIA, 19/08/18) Lecturer freed by abductors in Bayelsa
An abducted lecturer of the Niger Delta University (NDU) was freed by his kidnappers on 17 August at the Onuebum waterfront, Ogbia Local Government Area. The victim had been in captivity for over one month, having been abducted from his home in Gbarantoru, Yenagoa Local Government Area, on 12 July. In a statement released by the lecturer, he claimed that his family paid no ransom for his release. He also declined to confirm the reason behind the kidnapping. Official sources are yet to disclose whether a ransom was paid to secure the victim’s release. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

8. (SPAIN, 18/08/18) Man freed after 24 hours in captivity in Seville
On 14 August, National Police released a kidnap victim who had been abducted by a group of suspected drug traffickers in the neighborhood of Montequinto de Dos Hermanas. The victim was purported to be conducting a deal with the traffickers, who set him up by staging a police raid on the house the drugs transaction was taking place in. Three masked men, posing as police, broke into the house and robbed the victim of EUR 180,000 (USD 205,174). They then held him captive and contacted his wife, demanding a ransom of EUR 200,000 (USD 227,971) and threatening to kill him. Police however succeed in rescuing the victim during a security operation, in which they also arrested ten suspects. FULL ARTICLE (1)

MIDDLE EAST

9. (AFGHANISTAN, 20/08/18) Taliban kidnaps dozens of bus passengers in northern Afghanistan
According to a government official on 20 August, Taliban militants kidnapped approximately 150 people in the Khan Abad district of the northern province of Kunduz, following the forced stoppage of the three passenger buses they were travelling in. In his statement, the spokesperson for the Kunduz governor announced that the mass abduction occurred on the morning of 20 August whilst the passengers were on route from Takhar to Kabul. The victims were then reportedly moved to an undisclosed location, and most of them freed. Security forces subsequently launched a security operation to rescue the final 21 abductees. It is thought the insurgents had been looking for government employees or members of the security forces in the kidnap operation. This incident comes a day after the government offered an unconditional ceasefire, to which the Taliban have not yet responded. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

ASIA

10. (MALAYSIA, 20/08/18) Malaysian fishermen abducted by Thai pirates
On 19 August, a gang of 12 Thai maritime pirates robbed, and are suspected of having kidnapped, Malay fishermen off the coast of Pulau Langgun. The armed pirates robbed 11 local fishermen at sea, though were later thwarted by a marine police team, who saved seven of the victims and apprehended four of the assailants. The remaining four victims are unaccounted for, and are thought to have been transported to Thailand. There have currently been no reports of any ransom demands issued. FULL ARTICLE