Kidnap & Ransom Update – May 28, 2019
28-May-19

AMERICAS

1. (COLOMBIA, 24/05/19) Kidnappers arrested during ransom collection

On 24 May, three kidnappers were arrested by police in Cali as they showed up to collect the ransom for a kidnapping. The abduction was reported to the authorities on 3 May after a woman received a call from her nephew’s mobile. The call however was made by an unidentified man who claimed to have kidnapped her nephew. After providing evidence of the abduction, including the location of the victim’s abandoned car, the criminal demanded a ransom of COP 200 million (about USD 59,000) for the release of the young man. Soon after, the relatives received a video showing the bound victim imploring his dad to cooperate with the kidnappers. After almost two weeks of negotiations, on 15 May the parties finally agreed on a ransom of COP 26 million (almost USD 8,000), which would be paid on 22 May at a shopping mall in Cali. On that day, the victim was released near his home, while some members of the gang waited for the money at the agreed location. FULL ARTICLE

2. (US, 27/05/19) Baltimore government paralysed by ransomware

On 25 May, reports emerged that a hacking vulnerability known as EternalBlue had been used to infect the IT systems of Baltimore’s local government. The incident took place on 7 May, when thousands of Baltimore’s city government computers were frozen after their files became digitally scrambled. The responsible cybercriminals demanded 13 Bitcoin (approximately USD 113,000) to unlock all the systems, or three Bitcoin to release specific ones, additionally giving a deadline for the payment, which has now passed. Reportedly, the Baltimore government refused to pay. As a consequence, many of the city’s services have been paralysed, including real estate services and online payments of utility bills, parking tickets and taxes. Security experts said that if EternalBlue is truly involved in the attack, then the Baltimore government’s IT department should have installed a patch long ago, as Microsoft had released a fix in March 2017. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

3. (RUSSIA, 27/05/19) Abducted expatriate escapes by jumping out of window

A kidnapped expatriate managed to escape his kidnappers by jumping out of the window of an apartment located on the fourth floor of a building in the Leninsky Prospekt area of St. Petersburg. According to reports, on 25 May, the taxi driver native of Samarkand, Uzbekistan, was invited to a meeting by two Uzbek acquaintances, who said he owed them USD 2,000. The man did not agree with the claim and refused to pay. He was then beaten and brought to the apartment where the acquaintances lived. There he was told he had to carry out repairs for three months on account of the debt. Meanwhile, the abductors, using the victim’s phone, contacted his family and demanded payment of the debt, sending them videos of the man being beaten. The next day, when the kidnappers were distracted, the man decided to jump out of the window of the apartment. He was taken to hospital in severe state, having a head injury, brain concussion, and fractures. FULL ARTICLE (1)

MIDDLE EAST

4. (SYRIA, 27/05/19) Truck driver kidnapped for ransom in Swayda

A truck driver from Lattakia province was kidnapped north of the city of Swayda as he was transporting cargo. His truck was intercepted by a stolen car and a taxi from which armed men descended and forced the driver into one of the vehicles. The truck driver was immediately transported to a temporary shelter in the village of Majadl, where the kidnappers were in cooperation with a local gang. The victim was moved the next morning to another safe house, from where the criminals contacted the man’s family and demanded a ransom of USD 30,000 for his release. Upon learning on the incident, residents of Swayda mobilised to locate the victim and try negotiate with the kidnappers. Soon, the locals found the location of the safe house and exerted pressure on the gang, resulting in the release of the victim, allegedly without any payment. FULL ARTICLE

5. (UAE, 28/05/19) 17 Africans processed in Abu Dhabi for kidnapping

On 28 May, the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court accused 17 people from different African countries of participating in the kidnapping of a person. According to the Public Prosecution, the victim was forced into a vehicle and then transferred to another location. No more information was made public. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

6. (NIGERIA, 23/05/19) Kidnapping of crew allegedly linked to shipping company’s illegal activities

On 22 May, the Nigerian Navy said that the abduction of crew members of vessel MT Apecus on 19 April, was the result of illegal activities carried out by shipping company Petrogress Incorporation in Nigeria, which is managed by Osimili Adah. The Executive Officer of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder Port Harcourt, Navy Capt. Adegoke Ebo, who disclosed this information, said his men arrested Adah and 17 others, including an Indian national, suspected of illegal exporting of stolen Nigerian crude oil to Ghana. Ebo said the suspects had planned to move stolen crude oil from Nigeria with the MT Apecus and MT Invictus, owned by Petrogress Incorporation. To carry out this activity, Adah had stationed the two vessels at Bonny (Rivers) and Qua Iboe (Akwa Ibom), respectively, on the day of the pirate attack. According to Ebo, the kidnapping occurred following disagreement between two groups of oil thieves over rights to lift the stolen crude. Thus, the abduction was rather as a result of a failed oil theft collaboration, in which the aggrieved syndicate resorted to the abduction of the MT APECUS crew, comprised five Indians and at least one Nigerian. According to the navy’s investigations, the MT Apecus had been conducting trading activities in Nigerian waters without clearance and approval since 2014. Adah reportedly confessed his involvement in the illegal trade and later disclosed the names of his accomplices and facilitators. FULL ARTICLE (1)

ASIA

7. (MALAYSIA, 26/05/19) Sabah sea curfew extended by another two weeks

Sabah’s dusk-to-dawn sea curfew will be extended for another two weeks until 10 June, announced Malaysian Police Commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah on 26 May. Mammah said the extension of the curfew, which covers areas up to three nautical miles off Tawau, Semporna, Kunak, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Sandakan and Beluran, was needed due to continuous threats from cross-border criminals and terrorists. The curfew was first implemented in July 2014, following a spate of kidnappings carried out by Filipino terror group Abu Sayyaf. FULL ARTICLE