Kidnap & Ransom Update – July 17, 2019
17-Jul-19

AMERICAS

1. (MEXICO, 15/07/19) Kidnapped Honduran migrant rescued in Veracruz State

On 14 July, local police raided a house in Las Choapas, Veracruz State, where they rescued two kidnapped victims, a Honduran and a local national. A man guarding the victims was arrested in the operation. The raid was carried out after an anonymous call reported suspicious activity by armed people in the said property. According to police reports, the kidnappers demanded USD 15,000 for the release of the foreign national. It is not clear when and where the victims were kidnapped. Witnesses said the suspicious activity only started two months ago after the criminals rented the house. FULL ARTICLE

MIDDLE EAST

2. (IRAN, 15/07/19) Iranian-French academic arrested in Iran

On 15 July, the French Foreign Ministry called on Tehran to allow consular access to a Franco-Iranian researcher who has been arrested in Iran. Fariba Adelkhah was reportedly detained last month on unknown charges. Unconfirmed reports suggested that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) arrested her on suspicion of spying. According to Paris, no satisfactory response has been given to their requests. Meanwhile, an Iranian government spokesman said on 14 July that although he had heard reports about her arrest, he did not have any further information. Adelkhah’s arrest comes amid efforts by France to reduce tensions between Tehran and Washington. In recent years, several westerners and dual nationals have been jailed in Iran on alleged espionage charges. FULL ARTICLE

3. (IRAN, 17/07/19) UAE oil tanker missing in Strait of Hormuz

A small UAE-owned oil tanker has been reported missing in the Strait of Hormuz, with American officials raising concerns it may have been seized by Iranian authorities along with its 25-man crew. The RIAH was last detected on Saturday, 13 July, as it turned off its tracker while entering Iranian waters near Qeshm Island, which hosts a Revolutionary Guard base. Amidst accusations of a seizure, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that Iranian forces had rushed to the aid of an “unidentified tanker” that had sent a distress call after a “technical glitch,” and that tugboats had towed it toward Iranian waters for repairs. Mr. Mousavi did not say what nation the ship was from, who owned it or what its current status was. Meanwhile, Emirati officials have affirmed the RIAH did not emit any distress call. US officials have responded to the incident by saying they are trying to set up an international flotilla of ships that would keep the vital maritime traffic in the Gulf safe from Iranian interference. The incident took place as tensions are rising in the area, particularly threatening maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3)

AFRICA

4. (NIGERIA, 16/07/19) Cargo ship attacked off Nigeria, 10 Turkish sailors taken

Turkish general cargo ship PAKSOY 1 was attacked and boarded by pirates on 13 July in vicinity of Brass, Bayelsa State. The ship, managed by Kadioglu Shipping, was en route from Douala, Cameroon, to Abijan in Ivory Coast when it was attacked. 10 out of the 18-man crew were kidnapped. All the kidnap victims, who include the vessel’s captain and first mate, are said to be Turkish nationals. According to Turkish sources the remaining crew took the ship to Tema Anchorage in Ghana, anchoring there on 15 July. Other sources affirmed that the remaining crew members were rescued and taken to Guinea. FULL ARTICLE (1)

ASIA

5. (CHINA, 14/07/19) At least 16 foreign nationals arrested by Chinese authorities

Last week, Chinese authorities in Xuzhou announced they had arrested 19 people, including 16 foreign nationals -seven foreign teachers and nine foreign students-, on suspicion of drug use. On 14 July, EF Education First, a Swiss-based company that organises study abroad trips and cultural exchanges, confirmed that the seven teachers worked for the company. However, the company said reports suggesting that a number of its students had been arrested were not correct. EF Education First declined to provide a list of the teachers’ nationalities. Later, the UK government informed that four of the Xuzhou detainees are British nationals and that they are currently receiving consular assistance. On the same day, the Canadian government announced that a Canadian had been arrested in eastern China. The government spokesman declined to provide additional information, including the alleged charges and whether he was among the 16 foreigners arrested in Xuzhou. EF Education First said that to their understanding, the two incidents are unrelated. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3)

6. (INDIA, 15/07/19) Kidnapped crypto traders rescued

Police in Jaipur rescued three people who had been held to ransom for two weeks. The rescued victims included two cryptocurrency traders, for whom the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 80 bitcoin (worth around USD 780,000). The gang demanded ₹10 lakh (almost USD 15,000) for the third victim, who was kidnapped two after the traders. Presumably, the ransoms had not been paid at the time of the rescue. The 13-hour security operation was triggered after an armed man was arrested in the Bhankrota area of the city, on 14 July. After questioning, he admitted he was part of a kidnapping gang and gave information about his accomplices and their hostages, who were being held in an apartment building in the same area. After their release, the victims told the police they had been tortured. The gang is thought to have been involved in various other crimes, including kidnapping, extortion, and robbery. FULL ARTICLE (1)

7. (INDIA, 16/07/19) Canadian abducted and robbed at Delhi Airport

A Canadian man was allegedly abducted and robbed after boarding a taxi from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. The incident took place late at night on 12 July, when Mohammad Mehdi Ghazanfani was looking for the cab that had been sent by his company to pick him up, which was waiting at an area exclusive for company vehicles. Ghazanfani asked directions from a taxi driver at the airport, who told him the said area was outside the terminal building, offering to take him for Rs 100 (USD 1.5). However, as he boarded the car, he found three other people sitting inside, claiming to be passengers like him. Soon after leaving the airport, the car turned towards Mahipalpur and stopped. The cab driver then locked the doors and at knifepoint, one of the passengers forced Ghazanfani to hand over his ATM cards along with their PINs. Once the victim obliged, he was driven to an ATM in Mahipalpur, where money was withdrawn ten times. He was also robbed of his wallet and his phones before being left near Terminal 3. Once he managed to reach the airport, he informed the police on the incident. According to local press citing police sources, the authorities suspect the crime was carried out by a Mewat-based gang which is known for other similar cases. FULL ARTICLE

8. (PHILIPPINES, 16/07/19) Filipino and Chinese nationals arrested for kidnapping gamblers in Parañaque City

Eight Chinese nationals and one Filipino were arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for allegedly kidnapping casino players in Parañaque City, Metro Manila. Eight hostages, including a Chinese national, were rescued in the operation that was carried out on 11 July, in Las Piñas City. The Chinese suspects are loan sharks who would abduct individuals who failed to pay back the money that was lent to them at casinos, while the Filipino man was responsible for guarding the victims. The search operation was initiated after the wife of the Chinese gambler reported the kidnapping of her husband from the Okada Manila resort-casino in Parañaque City. She said the loan sharks had demanded PHP2 million (over USD 39,000) in exchange for his freedom. The victim’s family from China reportedly sent the kidnappers PHP500,000 (almost USD 10,000) but the group refused to free him unless the entire ransom was paid. When the victim called his wife to ask for the rest of the money, he managed to send her his GPS location, which helped the NBI find the safe house. FULL ARTICLE