Kidnap & ransom update May 01, 2018
1-May-18

AMERICAS

1. (PANAMA, 27/04/18) Chinese businessman found alive after two months in captivity
In the early hours of 27 April, a 32-year-old Chinese businessman was found alive by the Panamanian authorities after two months in captivity. It is unknown if the victim was found after his family paid a ransom or as a result of police investigation work. The man was kidnapped on 19 February from his internet business located in a mall of El Dorado area of Panama City. Four people, including three professional football players, remain in police custody, accused of involvement in the kidnapping and misuse of the victim’s credit cards. FULL ARTICLE

2. (VENEZUELA, 27/04/18) Kidnapped Syrian merchant rescued
A unit of the National Directorate against Extortion and Kidnapping of the Venezuelan judicial police rescued a Syrian merchant from a safe house in Antímano, Caracas. Youseff Cheren was kidnapped on 17 April as he arrived at his residence in the locality of Sebucán, in Sucre, Miranda state. It was reported that the kidnappers had initially demanded a large sum of money in dollars from the family, which they reduced as the days passed. The kidnappers cut one of victim’s fingers to pressure the family to pay. The victim’s son reported the incident to the police, who advised him to continue negotiations with the kidnappers in order to apprehend them. In that context, the victim’s family agreed on a payment, for an amount in dollars lower than that originally requested, in addition to several pieces of gold jewelry. The ransom payment took place in the town of La Victoria, Aragua state. However, after the payment, the kidnappers did not return the victim and did not contact the family again. Nonetheless, investigations continued and soon the police located the perpetrators, arresting two of them in the locality of El Junquito, Caracas. Both suspects admitted having participated in the kidnapping and revealed the location of the victim. A third kidnapper, tasked with guarding the victim, died during a confrontation with the police during the rescue operation. A fourth criminal is at large. FULL ARTICLE

3. (COLOMBIA, 28/04/18) Police rescue child held since November
The Colombian army recovered an abducted child in an operation carried out in the municipality of Timbío, Cauca department. The child had been in captivity since 30 November 2017, when he was kidnapped by unknown men in the locality of Cajibío of the same department. According to reports, the child’s kidnappers had originally demanded COP 20,000 million (USD 7.1 million) from the child’s parents. The demand was later lowered to COP 5,000 million (USD 1.7 million), and on the day of the rescue, the family was allegedly ready to pay a final amount of COP 600 million (USD 213,000). During the raid, which took place during the ransom delivery, two kidnappers were arrested. Two other suspects were arrested later, including a minor. The authorities have not determined if the kidnappers were common criminals or are linked to any insurgency group. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2)

4. (ARGENTINA, 29/04/18) Cartel leader kidnapped by gang specialised in kidnapping narcos
Margarita Ramona Toro, leader of the Argentinean drug cartel Clan Toro, was kidnapped on 24 April. She was released the next day, after her family allegedly paid a ransom of ARS 500,000 (USD 24,400). While the narco leader affirmed she was abducted by members of the rival Clan Acevedo, the authorities believe the kidnapping may have been perpetrated by a gang specialised in the kidnapping for ransom of members of the narco in Argentina. The authorities have based this line of investigation in a number of similar incidents recorded in the last six months in the country. At the end of 2017, the leader of a gang of narco retailers (narcomenusdistas) was kidnapped by a gang that originally demanded an ARS 2 million ransom (USD 97,500). The kidnappers reportedly tortured the victim and recorded the procedure, sending the video to his relatives to press for the payment. A final sum of ARS 1.5 million (USD 73,000) was allegedly paid for his release. Previously, in March 2017, a former narco trafficker who is now a businessman, was released after the payment of USD 800,000 (USD 39,000), out of ARS 2 million (USD 97,500) originally demanded. The said gang is also linked to the kidnapping of a number of Bolivians, who worked as drug intermediaries between a Bolivian cartel and Argentinean groups. Each of the victims were
released after an alleged payment of ARS 1.5 million (USD 73,000). FULL ARTICLE (1)

AFRICA

5. (SOUTH AFRICA, 29/04/18) Kidnapping increasing in South Africa
According to the South African authorities, more than 40 businesspeople have been abducted by kidnapping syndicates in 24 incidents in the past 18 months. These groups reportedly demand ransoms of up to R50 million (USD 4 million). According to police records, an average of three business people are reported kidnapped every month. However, it is likely that this figure is higher, as some cases are not reported. Just in the past two weeks, a number of high-profile incidents have made headlines, including the kidnapping of a Polish businesswoman for whom a ransom of nearly €2-million was allegedly paid. FULL ARTICLE

6. (UGANDA, 29/04/18) Four arrested for kidnapping for ransom of South Sudan national
On 27 April, Ugandan police in Kampala arrested four suspects who allegedly kidnapped a South Sudan national for ransom. The victim was kidnapped in the evening of 26 April, from the Ntinda suburbs of Kampala. The kidnapers reportedly demanded a ransom, which was settled at 4 million Uganda shillings (just over USD 1,000). The police, who had traced the phone used by the kidnappers to communicate their demands, arrested the suspects near the Cynibel Supermarket, where the payment was to take place. Uganda’s security agencies are said to be closely monitoring these incidents as the incidence of kidnapping for ransom in the country is on the rise. FULL ARTICLE

7. (SOUTH SUDAN, 30/04/18) 10 aid workers freed a week after abduction
On 30 May, the UN announced that the 10 aid workers kidnapped last week in Equatoria State have been released. Lam Paul Gabriel, spokesman for the SPLM-IO rebel group, said that its fighters detained the aid workers on 25 April at a checkpoint in the southern part of the country. He explained that the aid group was detained for traveling in rebel-held territory without giving notice, the second such incident in a month. The rebel spokesman claimed that OCHA had been warned on this actions in the past, and accused nongovernmental organizations and the United Nations agencies of cooperating with the South Sudan government. The conditions of the release were not ascertained. FULL ARTICLE (1)

ASIA

8. (PHILIPPINES, 30/04/18) Abu Sayyaf militants abduct four in Sulu
Armed men, suspected to be Abu Sayyaf militants lead by local leader Mujir Yada, abducted four people, including two policewomen, in a village of Pitikul, Sulu. The incident took place at midday on 29 April, when about 11 armed men intercepted the victims’ vehicle, on their way back from a leisure trip. The Philippine military, suspecting that the kidnappers and their victims remain in Patikul town, has deployed a contingent to the area. This incident brings to 14 the number of hostages in the hands of Abu Sayyaf in southern Philippines. FULL ARTICLE (1)