Kidnap & Ransom update – March 13, 2019
13-Mar-19

AMERICAS

1. (MEXICO, 12/03/19) 19 Central American migrants kidnapped near Mexican border

Nineteen Central American migrants were kidnapped from a bus on 7 March as they were crossing the violent northern state of Tamaulipas, on the US-Mexican border. According to preliminary reports, four vehicles blocked the road and forced their bus to stop. The armed men subsequently boarded the bus and took the 19 men, whose names they had on a list. Although the bus driver told authorities that 19 passengers were kidnapped, authorities have indicated the real number of victims could be higher. The actual nationalities of the victims has not been ascertained. While no group has claimed the kidnapping, San Fernando, the area where the incident took place, is controlled by Los Zetas cartel. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

2. (MEXICO, 12/03/19) Search for kidnapped rancher ends, victim still held

After a lack of results, local police and fellow farmers have ended the search for the rancher who was kidnapped in a rural area of Tabasco State on 8 March. David R. C. was kidnapped by three armed men over the highway Las Choapas-Ocozocoautla as he was on his way back to his ranch in the locality of Francisco Villa at night. The men took him on board of his own vehicle, which was later found abandoned in the locality of 5 de Mayo. According to initial reports, the kidnappers originally demanded a MXP 3 million ransom (almost USD 154,000), which has now been reduced to MXP 2 million (over USD 102,000). FULL ARTICLE

MIDDLE EAST

3. (ISRAEL, 06/03/19) French-Israelis swindle millions claiming funds would free hostages

Three French-Israelis have been arrested in the city of Netanya, Israel, following a joint investigation by the Israeli and French police. The men are suspected of defrauding well-meaning organizations in France, convincing them to pay millions of euros to allegedly pay a ransom to secure the release of French soldiers held by terror groups. Over the past several months, the gang is believed to have swindled approximately €10 million (USD 11 million) from French non-governmental groups that champion the cause of French soldiers. The gang reportedly contacted the various organizations and presented themselves as government officials from the French ministries of defense and foreign affairs, seeking to secure the release of troops held captive by the Islamic State in Syria or by other jihadi groups in Mali. The gang told the organizations that the French government wished to pay off kidnappers to release the soldiers but needed go-betweens as its policy was not to negotiate with terrorists. Using fake emails and forged documents with government logos, the fraudsters convinced multiple organizations to transfer more than a million euros each to foreign accounts, mostly in China, while assuring them that the government would quickly reimburse them. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

4. (NIGERIA, 09/03/19) Four crew members kidnapped off Brass

On 9 March, Panama-flagged cargo ship E. FRANCIS was attacked at a proximately 18NM SE of Brass Terminal by at least six pirates on board two speedboats. The pirates on one of the speedboats reportedly exchanged fire with the escorting security vessel, resulting in the deaths of seven pirates and one naval personnel. Meanwhile, those on the second motorboat boarded the vessel, ransacking and vandalizing it. Four unidentified crewmembers were kidnapped in the attack. After the pirates’ departure, the remaining crew relocated the vessel to Bonny Anchorage. FULL ARTICLE

5. (SOUTH AFRICA, 10/03/19) Businessman found unharmed after kidnapping

A businessman was found after he had been kidnapped from his home in Polokwane, Limpopo, by armed robbers on the evening of 9 March. The victim was found the next morning unharmed, although still tied up and blindfolded, after he was dumped in an open field, a few kilometres outside Polokwane. According to police reports, the suspects withdrew an undisclosed amount of money from the victim’s bank account before they left him at that spot. The man was taken away on his own luxury car after the criminals invaded his home at gunpoint and robbed valuables. The victim’s car was later found abandoned near a park in Polokwane. FULL ARTICLE

6. (NIGERIA, 12/03/19) Lebanese engineer kidnapped in Kano

On the early morning of 12 March, four armed men kidnapped a Lebanese engineer who was supervising road works in Kano. According to reports, the foreign victim, identified as Sagir Ahmed, who was working with Triactor Construction Company, was attacked as he approached a construction site in the Dangi area. His Nigerian driver was killed in the attack, while his security escort was injured. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3)

ASIA

7. (MALAYSIA, 12/03/19) Abu Sayyaf looking for targets in Sabah

Malaysian security forces reported being on full alert amid new intelligence reports that an Abu Sayyaf unit have been in waters off Sabah looking for new hostages to fund their campaign. The said group reportedly comprises some 17 gunmen believed to be led by sub-commanders Salip Mura, Apo Mike and Abu Radin, who left their Jolo base two days ago for the Tawi-Tawi islands. According to the report, this kidnap-for-ransom group has been using contacts in Tawi-Tawi to identity potential high-value targets along Sabah’s eastern coast. In view of the current threat, the Malaysian authorities extended on 11 March the dawn to dusk curfew in Sabah until 27 March. FULL ARTICLE

8. (PHILIPPINES, 12/03/19) Seven Chinese men arrested for kidnapping of compatriot

The Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested seven Chinese citizens, suspected of having kidnapped a compatriot for ransom. The men were arrested in Pasay City on 10 March, after the victim reported the incident to the police. Jian Shi Xin said he was abducted at the hotel-casino complex Okada Manila in Parañaque on 9 March. He was subsequently taken to a residential condominium in Pasay, where he was beaten and forced to call his brother to request money. The victim was released the next day after his brother allegedly paid a ransom of P200,000 (almost USD 4,000). Five of the alleged kidnappers were found at the condominium unit where Jian said he had been held and the other two at the Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque. FULL ARTICLE (1)