Kidnap & Ransom update July 1, 2018
1-Jul-18

AMERICAS

1. (COLOMBIA, 27/06/18) Kidnapping gang disbanded in Cali
The Cali Metropolitan Police dismantled a criminal structure called “Los Chocolates”, which specialised in kidnapping for ransom an extortion in Valle del Cauca, particularly in its capital, Cali. It was reported the group also acted as collectors of debts for drug trafficking groups. The group is linked to at least three high-profile kidnapping cases, including that of narco-trafficker Carlos Hugo García in January 2016. Garcia was abducted alongside his wife, two daughters, a niece, and a cousin. The group reportedly demanded COP 30 billion (over USD 10 million’s at today’s rate) and 200 gold bars in exchange for the family’s release. Garcia’s wife was released after a couple of days, to allow her to gather the ransom. The rest of the hostages were allegedly rescued but the authorities later in the same month. Other case involved another notable drug dealer. According to the authorities, Los Chocolates generated monthly income of between COP 200 and 300 million (USD 68,000 – 102,000). FULL ARTICLE

2. (US, 29/06/18) Businessman still missing after ransom payment
Philadelphia police are seeking help from the public to identify two suspects who allegedly abducted a local businessman earlier this month and took a ransom payment from the man’s wife without releasing him. Luis Alejandro Chueder Ramon, owner of real state, a construction company and a bar in Bucks County, had planned to meet with two men he believed were potential tenants, police said. After the alleged meeting, Ramon’s wife received several phone calls from unidentified men who said her husband had been kidnapped. She was told she had to pay a large (undisclosed) sum and not call police in order to protect Ramon from further danger. On 21 June, Ramon’s wife arrived at a pre-arranged location and paid the ransom to an unknown suspect whom she described as a Latino man with a Colombian accent. Several days later, hearing no further word from the kidnappers, on 26 June the wife reported the incident to police, who inspected a building in the city and discovered signs of a bloody struggle. Most recently, on 28 June, investigators released a surveillance video showing two of six potential suspects linked to the abduction. Three vehicles are believed to be involved in Ramon’s kidnapping. Authorities said the kidnapping took place on 19 June at a building in North Philadelphia. FULL ARTICLE (1)

3. (COLOMBIA, 29/06/18) Kidnapped agro-businessman rescued in Norte de Santander
On the evening of 29 June, Luis Ariel Ramírez Martínez, a palm plantation owner who had been kidnapped on 17 June, was rescued by the Colombian authorities. The victim said that during his captivity he was tortured and humiliated, and that at gunpoint his kidnappers threatened to kill him and all his farm employees if the ransom was not paid. He was reportedly held tied up to a tree with a chain to his neck. According to investigations, the kidnappers demanded the COP 800 million (USD 273,000) for his release. Two suspects, members of the same family, have been arrested so far. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

4. (UKRAINE, 29/06/18) Two Egyptians arrested suspected in the kidnapping of diplomat’s son
On 28 June, Ukrainian authorities arrested two individuals suspected in the kidnapping of the son of a Libyan diplomat in Kiev. The suspects are Egyptian nationals, who reportedly sought to obtain a ransom. Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko said in a statement that if convicted, the two Egyptians face up to seven years in prison. Libyan national “Abdusalam”, son of the financial attaché at the Libyan embassy, was abducted by at least two individuals on 25 June from the streets of Kiev. He was rescued by the police on the same day and is currently being treated for injuries at a Kiev hospital. No information was given on the ransom demanded. FULL ARTICLE (1)

5. (RUSSIA, 29/06/18) Uzbek resident found dead in spite of ransom payment
In Ulyanovsk, police are investigating the abduction and murder of an Uzbek expatriate. The victim, who was head of a construction company in the area, went missing two months ago. A week after his disappearance, an unknown person called from the victim’s number and demanded a ransom from his relatives. During the call, the perpetrator also mentioned something related to a business dispute with the victim, which allegedly had caused him “major damage”. The relatives reported they could identify an Uzbek accent in the caller’s voice. Two weeks after the call, the criminal allegedly personally went to the home of the victim’s sister, to demand the payment. He then reportedly received 600,000 rubles (almost USD 10,000) in cash. After that, he did not fulfill his promise and killed the victim. The man’s remains were found by the authorities following a report of fire on an abandoned house in the Lower Terrace area of Trans-Volga region. Investigations revealed the hostage was tortured during captivity and let to die in the fire. According to reports, the suspect has returned to Uzbekistan. The family has complained that the Russian authorities do not want to investigate the murder and are not taking the necessary steps to arrest the perpetrator. FULL ARTICLE

MIDDLE EAST

6. (IRAQ, 27/06/18) Bodies of eight Iraqis abducted by ISIS found
On 27 June, Iraqi security forces found the bodies of eight men, two days after a deadline set by the Islamic State (IS) expired. The militants kidnapped 18 people, including members of Iraq’s security forces and Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), in several attacks two weeks ago. IS then published a video on 23 June showing six of them, threatening to kill them within three days (26 June) if the government did not release female Sunni Arab prisoners. The victim’s bodies were found mutilated and rigged with explosives in the Tuz Khurmatu district of Salahuddin Province, said Lieutenant General Muzher al-Azawi, Commander of Diyala Operations. On 26 June it was claimed that three hostages had been released for ransom and that six others had been rescued by the Iraqi security forces. FULL ARTICLE (1)

7. (YEMEN, 29/06/18) Houthis raid WFP warehouse, kidnap two UN staff members
Yemen’s Local Administration Minister and Higher Relief Council Director, Abdul Raqib Fatah, condemned the raid on a World Food Program (WFP) warehouse in Hodeidah and the kidnapping of two UN staff members by Houthi militias. In a press statement, Fatah denounced the Houthi’s continued aggression towards international humanitarian organizations working in Yemen and called the attack a war crime and a violation of international and humanitarian law. He called on the international community and aid groups to condemn this “terrorist act” and take all necessary measures to deter the militants from interfering in relief efforts. WFP has not issued any official statements. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

8. (LIBYA, 29/06/18) Foreign nationals arrested for kidnapping of employee of African embassy
Members of the criminal investigation unit of the Tripoli district of Hayy al Andalus arrested three Africans who kidnapped an employee working at the embassy of an African country in Tripoli. Sources in the section indicated that the perpetrators had handcuffed and videotaped the hostage. The video was then sent to his relatives to demand a ransom. Reportedly, the kidnappers succeeded in receiving a sum of money from the family in return for the hostage’s release. After their arrest, the perpetrators confessed to the crime. No more details were provided on the kidnapping. FULL ARTICLE

9. (CAMEROON, 29/06/18) Four businessmen kidnapped in Southwest province
On 21 June, armed individuals on motorbikes broke into the town hall of Bangem, the capital of Kupe Muanenguba division, Southwest province. During the broad daylight attack, the men, suspected to be Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF) militants, kidnapped four businessmen. Informed of the incident, the authorities immediately organized search operations. Although a number of people have already been arrested, the victims remain missing. It is reported the kidnappers have already demanded ransoms of CFA one million (USD 1,800), for the release of each of the victims. An increasing number of kidnappings have been reported in Bangem since the beginning of the Anglophone crisis in September 2017. FULL ARTICLE

ASIA

10. (PHILIPPINES, 01/07/18) Gunmen kidnap six people in Zamboanga
Gunmen kidnapped six people, including an infant, from a farm in Sirawai town, in the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Norte. Police said a group of criminals, led by Jamilon Tukalan, was likely behind the 28 July kidnapping. The kidnappers demanded P400,000 (USD 7,500) for the safe release of the hostages, most of them employees of a farm owned by Valiente Tolo Felizarta, the town’s municipal engineer. The local authorities have invited Tukalan’s sister, a local resident, to help in negotiating for the freedom of the two farming families. Tukalan’s group is behind a series of robberies, cattle rustling, murders and kidnappings for ransom in the Zamboanga Peninsula. FULL ARTICLE