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Kidnap & Ransom Update – May 14, 2019


1. (HONDURAS, 12/05/19) Number of Kidnappings in Honduras decrease 50%

According to the Honduran National Police, the number of kidnapping cases in the country decreased 50% in the first quarter on 2019, compared to the same period in 2018. Reportedly, in Q1 2018, four kidnappings were recorded, while in Q1 2019, only two cases were reported. The police attributed the decrease to police efforts for the dismantling of kidnapping gangs and to better training of personnel. It was noted that equality important have been the alliances established between Honduras, Colombia and the US to combat this crime. Notwithstanding the positive results, the authorities recommended the population to put into practice self-protection measures such as carrying out frequent route changes, not to travel through desolate sites, not to lodge strangers in their residence, among others. FULL ARTICLE

2. (SALVADOR, 13/05/19) Kidnapping cases persist in El Salvador

According to statistics by the Salvadorian police, 31 kidnappings for ransom have been recorded in the country since 2017. Authorities received 15 such reports in 2017 and 15 more in 2019, as well one in the first four months of 2019. Additionally, the municipalities of Nahuizalco in Sonsonate department, San Martin in San Salvador and San Miguel in the department of the same name, have been identified as the localities with the highest number of incidents. According to the Specialized Unit on Organized Crime of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic, 90% of the reported kidnapping cases ended successfully. The same agency affirmed that in most cases, specialised kidnaping gangs are behind the incidents, with only a few attributed to Mara gangs. FULL ARTICLE

3. (ECUADOR, 13/05/19) Cargo trucks targeted by former militants in border with Colombia

Cargo trucks using alternative routes to avoid controls on the Colombia-Ecuador border have become a new target for the residual groups of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). Reportedly, such roads along the border in Carchi region of Ecuador have reportedly been overran by FARC dissidents who assault vehicles trying to smuggle merchandise. Military investigations revealed that these groups hijack the trucks and hold their drivers hostage until the owners pay the so-called “vaccines” (right-to-operate fees), which range from USD 3,000 to USD 5,000. In a recent incident, Colombian armed forces recovered nine trucks and two 4x4s in the locality of San Antonio, Tolima department. The vehicles had reportedly been hijacked by the Front 48 of the FARC at an illegal checkpoint along the border and later taken to San Antonio, from where they extorted the owners. At least four of the recovered vehicles had Ecuadorian plates. FULL ARTICLE


4. (FRANCE, 13/05/19) Oil company targeted in cyber attack

Picoty SA, a French company specialized in petroleum products, was targeted by ransomware on 11 May. The hackers, who claimed to have encrypted at least 80% of the company’s data, demanded a ransom of €500,000. Moreover, the criminals threatened to increase the demand to €1 million if the original amount was not paid within a week. Picoty allegedly refused to paid, instead reporting the incident to the authorities. In a statement, the company said they counted with backups and that their IT teams were working to restore their systems. Reportedly, the incident impacted payment systems and terminals in some Avia gas stations across the country. FULL ARTICLE (1)


5. (KENYA, 12/05/19) Reduction in kidnapping cases over 2018

According to the latest Economic Survey published by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, abduction cases in Kenya reduced significantly in the past year, with 52 victims recorded in 2018, in comparison to 138 noted over 2017. FULL ARTICLE


6. (PHILIPPINES, 12/05/19) Five Chinese arrested in Makati for kidnapping of compatriots

On 12 May, Philippine Police arrested five Chinese nationals and three Filipinos in Makati city, Metro Manila, for their participation in the kidnapping of three Chinese citizens. The suspects had allegedly forced the victims into a van along a main road in the area of Las Piñas, on 10 May. However, one of the victims managed to escape and report the abduction to the police. The kidnappers meanwhile demanded P200,000 (almost USD 4,000) for the remaining hostages. The police arrested the suspects as they showed up to collect the ransom at a location in Makati. The two victims were also rescued, located inside the suspects’ van. FULL ARTICLE

7. (INDIA, 13/05/19) Two arrested in kidnapping of oil company employee

Two out of three main suspects in the kidnapping of an oil worker have been arrested by police in Arunchal Pradesh. The third suspect is still at large, believed to have fled the state. The kidnapping took place on 1 April, when the suspects, claiming to be members of an insurgent group, kidnapped an employee of Udipta Energy Oil Company in Changlang district as he was travelling to a rig site. The employee’s driver was also taken, but released soon after, dispossessed of his belongings. The oil worker was released by his captors on 29 April, following a payment of Rs 40 lakhs (over USD 56,000), made by the oil company. According to the police, the suspects have a lengthy criminal record, including serval kidnappings. FULL ARTICLE

8. (VIETNAM, 14/05/19) Vietnamese kidnappers arrested for abduction of Chinese nationals

Ten Vietnamese citizens were arrested on 10 May, accused of abducting Chinese nationals for ransom. Police in Lang Son province arrested the suspects after receiving a report on the kidnapping of four Chinese men the previous week. The Chinese victims had reportedly been lured via WeChat and tricked into crossing the border into Loc Binh. Once there, the suspects, dressed as police “arrested” them, later demanding large ransoms payments via WeChat from their relatives in China. According to the police, the group kidnapped at least seven Chinese nationals between 21 and 28 April, collecting about 215 million dong (USD 9,209) in ransoms. Reportedly, all the victims had entered Vietnam illegally, forcing them and their relatives to comply with the kidnappers in a bid to get home safely. FULL ARTICLE (1)