Kidnap & Ransom Update – June 17, 2019
17-Jun-19

AMERICAS

1. (VENEZUELA, 13/06/19) Colombian businessman kidnapped with two Venezuelan employees

Family members of Germán Plata Palacio have made public the kidnapping of the Colombian businessman near the Venezuela-Colombia border, on 7 June. Plata Palacio was reportedly taken by unknown gunmen in the city of Ureña, Táchira state, along with two of his local workers who accompanied him. Relatives of the victims are requesting the help of both the Venezuelan and Colombian authorities to secure their safe release. While the identity of the kidnappers remains unknown, a number of armed groups are present in the region, including pro government militias (“colectivos”), and the Colombian Pelusos and ELN, who commonly demand right-to-operate fees from businessmen. FULL ARTICLE (1)

2. (MEXICO, 15/06/19) Kidnapped Honduran found in serious condition

A kidnapped Honduran migrant was found in life-threatening condition in Monterrey, the capital city of Nuevo Leon State. The victim presented a number of injuries in different parts of his body, believed to have been caused by torture. Sergio Antúnez Padilla was abducted in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, as he tried to cross to the US. It is unknown the exact date in which he had kidnapped. FULL ARTICLE (1)

3. (COLOMBIA, 15/06/19) Architect kidnapped by FARC dissidents

The Cali police confirmed the kidnapping for ransom of architect Carlos Ossa Velázquez in Jamundí, Valle del Cauca department, by suspected FARC dissidents. The incident was confirmed after the armed group sent a video of the victim to his family. The video shows the architect handcuffed and guarded by two uniformed armed men. In the recording, the victim indicates that he was kidnapped by members of the FARC’s Jaime Martínez mobile unit, who demand money in exchange for his release. The exact amount is unknown. Ossa Velázquez disappeared on 10 June as he went to meet some friends in the village of Potrerito. FULL ARTICLE

EUROPE

4. (ALBANIA, 12/06/19) Police arrest Chinese tied to loan shark syndicate

Albanian police arrested a Chinese man wanted in his country for illegal earnings as part of an organized crime group that used violence to get repayments for loans illegally acquired at casinos. In 2013, the arrested suspect, along with a number of associates, kidnapped a compatriot, demanding that he paid back 3.8 million yuan (some USD 500,000). A year later, the gang forced another Chinese citizen to sell 23 apartments, 40 parking lots and six vehicles at a low price to pay back his loan. The suspect is expected to be extradited to China. FULL ARTICLE

5. (BELGIUM, 17/06/19) Aircraft component maker hit by large ransomware attack

On 7 June, ASCO Industries, a Belgian company providing aircraft components to companies such as Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier Aerospace and Lockheed Martin, fell victim to a large cyber-attack. The said attack incapacitated all the company’s IT systems and obstructed employees from carry out any work, resulting in the shutdown of production around the world. The infection occurred at the production plant in Belgium, but the plants in the rest of the locations were shut down as a precaution to prevent the ransomware from spreading across the entire network. According to the authorities, it is a case of ransomware, with the hackers demanding ransom to release the blocked computers and systems. The company confirmed the incident, however refused to comment on the status of the malware infection, and whether ransom will be paid to restore the systems or when activity will be resumed. A week after the incident, the company’s operations remain disabled. This incident mirrors the case of French engineering company Altran earlier this year, which saw 400 of its servers paralyzed by malware. According to local media, the company finally agreed to pay the equivalent of €1 million in bitcoin for the release of its systems. It is estimated that the total cost was €20 million euros. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

AFRICA

6. (GHANA, 14/06/19) Kidnappers of Canadian women demanded ransom

Ghanaian security sources have revealed that the ring leader of the gang that kidnapped two Canadian students on 4 June has confessed that they demanded USD 850,000 ransom for their release. Reportedly, the victims’ parents had offered the kidnappers USD 47,000, but no further negotiations took place as the victims were released soon after, on 12 June. According to local media, the four Nigerians arrested for their suspected participating in the abduction are believed to be also behind the kidnapping for ransom of an Indian businessman in Kumasi last April. It is suspected that the responsible gang was membered by at least 14 Nigerians, in addition to a number of local nationals. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

ASIA

7. (PHILIPPINES, 15/06/19) Cyprus police investigating kidnap of Chinese businessman in the Philippines

Cypriot police are investigating the abduction in the Philippines of a Chinese businessman who is a permanent resident of Cyprus. The man was allegedly released by his abductors after his wife paid ransom of around €600,000. The businessman was reportedly abducted last week during a business trip to the Philippines. After the kidnaping, a Chinese man showed at the businessman’s home in Limassol and informed his wife of the incident, demanding the ransom payment. The businessman returned to Cyprus on 15 June. A person is wanted in connection with the case. FULL ARTICLE