Kidnap & Ransom Update – March 3, 2019
3-Mar-19

AMERICAS

1. (COLOMBIA, 28/02/19) Locals sentenced for kidnapping Ecuadorian nationals

A couple was sentenced to over 40 years in prison for the kidnapping for ransom of two Ecuadorian businessmen in May 2017. The foreign businessmen had been lured to Cali with a fake business deal. The male suspect picked them up from Cali airport on 27 May 2017, and then took the pair to the woman’s house in Pereira, the capital city of Risalda Department, where they were tied up and forced to call relatives in Ecuador to request USD 50,000 for their release. The victims were released after their relatives paid USD 1,800 to the kidnappers. FULL ARTICLE (1)

2. (EL SALVADOR, 28/02/19) Honduran escapes kidnapping in El Salvador

A Honduran national managed to escape a group of gang members who kidnapped him after he withdrew money from an ATM in San Miguel city. After he was taken, the victim decided to make a dangerous maneuver and overturn his car, to draw the attention of security forces stationed nearby. The three suspect kidnappers were arrested immediately. According to the authorities, the arrested individuals are members of the Mara Salvatrucha MS-13. FULL ARTICLE

3. (MEXICO, 01/03/19) Mexican cartels kidnapping migrants headed to the US

US authorities warned that suspected members of Mexican cartels are increasingly kidnapping migrants who are trying to cross to the US. Border Patrol agents in Laredo, Texas, said they apprehended several individuals this week, who claimed to have been held against their will in Mexico prior to entering the US. In one incident, a Honduran national said that while traveling through Mexico last week, he and several other individuals had been forced off a bus by suspected cartel members who took them to a safe house at an unknown location. The Honduran claimed that the group held approximately 200 people at the same time, and demanded ransom for all of them. The man said he was held for about a week before eventually escaping and crossing the Rio Grande by himself. Later that same day, agents apprehended an additional 12 illegal migrants near the same area. One person in that group, an Ecuadoran national, corroborated the Honduran’s story, and said the suspected cartel members had begun moving the remaining hostages to a different location when they discovered some of them had escaped. FULL ARTICLE

4. (MEXICO, 03/03/19) Kidnappers of Indian national prosecuted

A judge sentenced two taxi drivers to 60 years in prison for their participation in the kidnapping of an India national who wanted to cross into the US illegally. The incident took place in Tijuana on 27 January 2017, when the foreigner was on his way to meet with some men who had been hired by a friend of the victim residing in California, to get him into the US. The Indian migrant hailed a taxi from the street, and indicated the driver to drop him near the border because he was to be taken across. The driver, instead of taking him to the border, kidnapped him and held him at a safe house for five days. The prosecuted men were in charge of taking care of the victim. The gang demanded a ransom from the victim’s friend in California. Reportedly, the friend immediately transferred USD 400 to the kidnappers; however, the victim was not released. Later on 31 January, they called the friend again and demanded USD 9,000 in exchange for not killing the migrant. Luckily, on the same day, the migrant was able to escape and ask for help from the municipal police, who arrested the two men. FULL ARTICLE

EUROPE

5. (NORWAY, 28/02/19) Norwegian police believe tycoon’s wife may be dead

Norwegian police said they still have “no signs of life” in the abduction of the wife of one of Norway’s richest men four months ago, signalling she might be dead. Police said in early January that investigators had found a ransom demand making “serious threats” at her home in the locality of Lorenskog. The note, written in poor Norwegian, warned that she would die if police were alerted. According to Norwegian media, the ransom demanded was nine million euros (approximately USD 10.3 million) in the cryptocurrency Monero. Police at the time refused to confirm the sum but said they had advised the family not to pay. After the note was found, Investigators reportedly succeeded in making online contact with the presumed kidnappers, but no evidence was given that they were holding Hagen, or that she was still alive. FULL ARTICLE (1)

MIDDLE EAST

6. (SYRIA, 02/03/19) Chechen authorities announce rescue of Russian boy kidnapped in Syria

Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, announced the 2 March rescue of Hadis Ibrahimov, a boy from Dagestan who was kidnapped from a refugee camp in Syria. Russian special services and the Chechen representative for the Middle East and North Africa reportedly participated in the operation to locate and rescue the child. Efforts to locate the boy were initiated after his mother contacted the Chechen authorities on social media “a few days” before the operation. According to Kadyrov, the boy was taken to a safe place in Syria and actions to return him to Russia are ongoing. His mother however, will not be able to go back to Russia unless she is cleared by the Russian security services. No more details were provided in the incident, and the reason for the family’s stay in the region was unclear. However, Russian media reported that he Chechen authorities have been engaged in the rescue of Russian children from warzones in the Middle East since 2018. These children are said to be the offspring of Russian citizens who joined terror groups linked to the Islamic State (IS). After the decline of IS following the liberation of Mosul, a number of children and women remained abandoned in shelters in Iraq and Syria. Since then, about 100 women and children, mainly residents of Chechnya, Dagestan, Ingushetia, Bashkiria, Tver and Nizhnevartovsk, have been returned to Russia. Most recently, on 28 December 2018, Ramzan Kadyrov reported on social networks about the rescue in Iraq and return to Russia of another 30 children from Chechnya, Dagestan, Penza and Moscow. In addition, with the assistance of the Russian services, a number of children have also been returned to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

AFRICA

7. (SOMALIA, 01/03/19) Gunmen abduct six aid workers

Unidentified gunmen abducted at least six aid workers in Gedo region. The Somali aid workers were travelling on a nutrition mission to Bura village when their vehicle was ambushed by gunmen on 27 February. Reportedly, some of the aid workers managed to escape, but six were taken captive. The motive for the abductions is unclear. Although locals have attributed the incident to Al-Shabab, the group has not made any claims. FULL ARTICLE

8. (SOMALIA, 01/03/19) Al-Shabab carries out complex attack in Mogadishu hotel, several held hostage

Overnight on 28 February-1 March 2019, security forces engaged in a gunfight with al-Shabab militants in Mogadishu following a complex attack on a hotel earlier on 28 February. Following the initial attack at the Hotel Maka Al-Mukarama -a hotel popular with government officials-, gunmen seized an adjacent building. Security personnel rescued an unspecified number of civilians who were being held hostage and used as human shields by the terrorists. Several other buildings in the area were evacuated. The siege ended late on 1 March after a number of militants were killed by the Somalian security forces. Al-Shabab affirmed a number of fighters managed to escape and return to their bases. At least 29 people were killed and 80 others were injured in the event. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

ASIA

9. (THAILAND, 01/03/19) Five arrested for kidnap of Singaporean national

On 28 February, police officials announced the arrest of five Thai men for the abduction and extortion of a Singaporean man. The victim was abducted form the car park of a mall in the Rachada area of Bangkok on 14 February, as he was about leave the complex. The man was bundled into another vehicle at gunpoint and taken to a hotel in Chonburi city. There, he was extorted of over 350,000 baht (USD 11,000) before he was released on the same day at a gas station in the province. The victim only reported the incident on 23 February. According to the police, there are indications that the suspects are members of a kidnapping gang. FULL ARTICLE

10. (PHILIPPINES, 03/03/19) Chinese nationals arrested for kidnapping compatriot

On 2 March, six Chinese nationals were arrested after they kidnapped another Chinese man in Calamba City, Laguna. According to police reports, the suspects abducted the victim in Makati City on 27 February and kept him in a room at a resort in Calamba City for four days. A concerned citizen contacted the Laguna police after hearing the victim’s cries for help. Upon validation of the incident, an operation ensued, resulting in the arrest of the suspects and rescue of the victim. The suspects were identified to be members of a Chinese loan shark gang. The suspects would allegedly offer Chinese tourists money to allow them to play at a casino. However, if the tourist won the game, the suspects would size the earnings, otherwise, they would still force him to pay with interest. If the tourist could not pay, the suspects would hold the person hostage and force him to contact relatives to pay a ransom for his release. FULL ARTICLE