Kidnap & Ransom update – March 25, 2019
25-Mar-19

AMERICAS

1. (MEXICO, 22/03/19) Kidnapped businessman found dead in central Mexico

The body of Emilio Nava Villalobos, a renowned Zacatecas businessman and former regional director for the Natural resources Secretariat (SAGARPA), was found at a rural area of Zacatecas State on 19 March. According to official investigations, the businessman died approximately a month ago, soon after his kidnapping in early February. According to his relatives, they were contacted a few days after the abduction by people demanding a ransom. However, the kidnappers never provided proof of life for the victim. It is unknown if negotiations continued or if any ransom was paid. FULL ARTICLE (1)

2. (CANADA, 24/03/19) Chinese student kidnapped in Toronto

York regional police have released images of three suspects in the kidnapping of a Chinese man in Markham on 23 March. Wanzhen Lu, a Chinese student at a Toronto University, was with his girlfriend at the parking area of his condominium when he was attacked with a stun gun by an unknown man who, with the aid of some accomplices, dragged him into a van. Police said the attack appeared to be targeted as Lu’s girlfriend was not harmed. Investigators are currently looking for four suspects; the van driver, the attacker and two others, all of whom were captured by security cameras. Canadian authorities are working with the Chinese consulate and are communicating with his family back home. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

3. (MOROCCO, 22/03/19) UK warns on heightened terrorist threat in Morocco

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its travel advice on 20 March to reflect “an increased threat” of terrorism in the North African country. According to the update, “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Morocco”. The FCO advised travellers to be vigilant at all times while in the country. According to the FCO, the update follows a warning by the Moroccan authorities on an increased threat linked to the number of Moroccans sympathetic or linked to the Islamic State and other extremist groups, and the regular disruption of terrorist cells across the country. Reportedly, some of these cells have the intention to carry out attacks in Morocco against government installations, public spaces and tourist sites. Attacks, which may include kidnapping, could be indiscriminate or target foreigners. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

4. (CAMEROON, 22/03/19) Kidnapped university football team freed in Cameroon

A university football team abducted in the Anglophone region of Cameroon has been released, the university’s head coach informed on 22 March. The team of 20 students was taken while they were training at the University of Buea, southwestern Cameroon, on 20 March. The players said they had been tortured by their kidnappers. It’s unclear if the university paid the ransom demanded for the players’ release. The amount demanded was never disclosed. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction, but Anglophone separatists have been accused in several kidnappings of students in the country’s north and southwest regions. FULL ARTICLE (1)

5. (LIBYA, 23/03/19) Three abducted Africans rescued in Tripoli

The Libyan Interior Ministry announced on 23 March, the rescue of three Africans in Tripoli. According to the statement, the three Niger nationals were being held by two Malians, who had forced the captives to contact relatives and request the payment of a ransom for their release. One of the relatives report the incident to the Libyan authorities. FULL ARTICLE (1)

ASIA

6. (INDIA, 24/03/19) Hospital owner paid ransom in virtual kidnapping case

Police in Gururgam, Haryana State, are probing the claims of a hospital owner, who said having paid a ransom of Rs one crore (over USD 144,000) to a kidnapping gang to free his son. According to the businessman, he was threatened by the Kaushal gang, whose members not only claimed having his son hostage, but also affirmed they counted with the protection of the police’s special task force in Gururgam. According to investigations, the incident had been a case of virtual kidnapping, as the Kaushal gang had actually not been able to kidnap the child. FULL ARTICLE