Kidnap & Ransom Update – May 5, 2019
5-May-19

AMERICAS

1. (PERU, 02/05/19) Venezuelan gang arrested planning a kidnapping

Peruvian police detained three members of a Venezuelan criminal gang, which planned to kidnap the owner of a hospital. The three suspects were arrested in a restaurant close to the hospital owned by the targeted businessman in the San Martín de Porres district of Lima. According to the police, the arrest operation took place after receiving information on a group of suspicious people roaming the vicinity. The suspects were arrested in possession of three firearms and ammunition. This incident followed the kidnapping of another businessman in the same district, also by a gang membered by Venezuelan nationals, on 21 April. FULL ARTICLE

2. (MEXICO, 03/05/19) French and other 17 kidnap victims rescued in Jalisco

Jalisco State authorities reported the rescue of 18 kidnap victims and the discovery of the bodies of four other victims during three security operations on the same day in different localities of the state. In the early hours of 3 May, Marc Jaques Bencherit Vauquelin, a French national who had been kidnapped from his home in the city of Zapopan the previous day by an armed group, was located in safe house in the same city. The authorities did not provide further details on the case, just that he had been found well with only minor injuries. Meanwhile, in the state capital, Guadalajara, at about 8:30 am local time, a man with his arms tied up stopped a police patrol asking for help, saying he had escaped his kidnappers. The victim took the officers to the property in which he had been held captive, finding two other victims on their way and other four at the location. The victims were not able to ascertain for how long they had been held in captivity but said they had been beaten and deprived of water and food. No arrests were made as the kidnappers had left the group unattended. Later, in the locality of Tlajomulco, 12 kidnapped people were found by authorities who responded to reports of an armed confrontation. Al the 12 victims had gunshot injuries and bore signs of torture. Unfortunately, four of the hostages had already died at the time of the rescue. FULL ARTICLE (1)

MIDDLE EAST

3. (SYRIA, 04/05/19) Ransom demanded for kidnapped South African journalist

In a statement on 4 May, NGO Gift of the Givers said that the kidnappers of South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohammed have demanded a ransom of USD 1.5 million for his release. The organization also said that negotiations for his release had commenced last week. According to Gift of the Givers’ founder, Imtiaaz Sooliman, the organisation has “made it clear” to the kidnappers that Mahomed’s family cannot afford the ransom amount, with the abductors having replied they are giving more time to “consider other options”. Sooliman said they are currently engaging with religious leaders to provide letters requesting the immediate, unconditional release of Shiraaz and prevent a tragedy. These developments followed last week’s release of a video showing Mohammed alive, pleading for his release, and which is the second proof of life since his kidnapping in Syria in 2017.FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

4. (BENIN, 03/05/19) French tourists kidnapped near border with Burkina Faso

Two French tourists are feared kidnapped after they went missing in the Pendjari National Park of Benin, some 550 kilometres (340 miles) north of Cotonou, on 1 May. Mauritanian and Malian sources later confirmed that the tourists’ driver was found shot dead. The vehicle carrying them was found burnt less than a 100 kilometres from the border in Burkina Faso. Diplomatic and security sources confirmed the events on 3 May. French diplomatic authorities affirmed the couple are actively being sought for with the help of the Benin authorities. It has been claimed on local media that the two Frenchmen were transported north, to Diapaga, Burkina Faso. There is no information on the identity of the kidnappers. Pendjari, one of the largest animal parks in West Africa, is a vast area located on the porous and remote border with Burkina Faso, which has recently experienced an increase in jihadist violence. FULL ARTICLE (1) (2) (3)

ASIA

5. (MALDIVES, 02/05/19) One arrested over kidnapping for ransom of expat

The Maldives police arrested an individual who held an expatriate hostage on the night of 1 May and tried to demand a ransom. According to the police, both the victim and the main suspect are Bangladeshi nationals. The Bangladeshi suspect was reportedly arrested as he showed up to collect the MVR 40,000 (approximately USD 2,500) ransom demanded for the release of the hostage. After questioning, the man revealed he had been aided by seven Maldivians, who physically assaulted the expatriate and stole his valuables. The local suspects were able to escape when the police showed up at the safe house to rescue the victim. FULL ARTICLE

6. (INDIA, 03/05/19) Ransomware hits Telangana and Andhra Pradesh’s power

Indian police reported that hackers had attacked the websites of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh state power utilities on 29 April. Reportedly, the Robinhood ransomware defaced the websites associated with the power utilities companies in both states and encrypted all their files, later demanding 6 bitcoins (approximately USD 34,000) for the description key and threatening to erase all the files if this was not paid. According to the cybercrime special branch of the police, IT experts managed to restore access to the files by 3 May. It was also stated that no customer data, including bank details, appeared to have been leaked. FULL ARTICLE (1)