Kidnap & Ransom update November 4, 2018
4-Nov-18

AMERICAS

1. (MEXICO, 30/10/18) Woman rescued, mutilated during kidnapping

Police attached to the Prosecutor’s Office of Puebla state rescued a 38-year-old woman who had been kidnapped, also arresting six suspects. The woman was kidnapped on 19 October after she left her son at school in the city of Cholula. She was taken after the criminals provoked a traffic accident, hitting the woman’s car. The gang called the victim’s family on the same day, demanding a ransom payment of MXP 5 million (USD 250,000) for the woman’s release. According to the authorities, a total of 32 calls were made to the family, and several videos were sent, showing the woman being beaten, and tortured. One of the videos showed how the kidnappers cut one of the victim’s ears. The authorities managed to trace the calls and locate the criminals’ safe house in the municipality of Amozoc, about 45 km from Cholula, later mounting the rescue operation. According to the authorities, the dismantled gang operated in Puebla state since late July 2018, linked additionally more than five kidnapping cases in Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico state. FULL ARTICLE

2. (COLOMBIA, 01/11/18) Kidnapped merchant rescued in Nariño

Colombian Marines, following an armed encounter with kidnappers, rescued Luis Valencia, a well-known merchant from the municipality of El Charco in Nariño. His captors, identified as members of a local dissident group called ‘Guerrillas Unidas del Pacifico’ (GUP), demanded COP 700 million (USD 220,000) for the victim’s release. The merchant was kidnapped on 29 October, in El Charco, by GUP men under the command of alias ‘Borojo’. The GUP are a dissent group of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), which has already transitioned into civilian life. This group finds its main adversary in the FARC’s Oliver Sinisterra Front, the leading criminal group in the South Pacific and Cauca. FULL ARTICLE

3. (VENEZUELA, 02/11/18) Soldier kidnapped by Colombian gang was released

Military official, Sgt. Gerson Hernández Sanguino, was released hours after being kidnapped by presumed members of Colombian gang Los Rastrojos in Tachira state, near the border with Colombia. The circumstances of Hernandez’s release are unknown, particularly whether the military authorities agreed or not to the criminals’ demands. Reportedly, the paramilitaries had demanded the release of two colleagues who had been previously arrested for possession of long guns. According to the Venezuelan military authorities, the sergeant was released early on 31 October, as a result of pressure exerted by the army in the area of the incident. Hernandez was kidnapped in the night of 30 October, after 70 to 100 heavily armed men, who allegedly identified themselves as members of the Colombian Los Rastrojos paramilitary group, broke into the headquarters of a company of the Venezuelan National Guard (GNB), in the locality of La Mulata. The assailants also stole a number of weapons and valuables. FULL ARTICLE

4. (COLOMBIA, 03/11/18)Gang responsible for kidnap/murder of Costa Ricans dismantled

Colombian authorities arrested four people, including a member of the military police (Gaula), who are presumed members of a criminal gang accused of having kidnapped, tortured and murdered two Costa Rican tourists in Bogotá in February 2018. According to investigations, the suspects, on 27 February demanded through WhatsApp messages USD 250,000 as ransom from relatives of the victims. Reportedly, the family was only able to gather USD 4,000, which was sent to the kidnappers via an international money transfer company on 11 March, not knowing that the victims had already been killed on 3 March. The bodies of the tourists were found by the authorities on 24 April, in a rural area of ​​the municipality of Silvania, Cundinamarca. The police is still looking for other members of the gang. FULL ARTICLE (1)

EUROPE

5. (RUSSIA, 31/10/18) Businessman released after two months in captivity

On 29 October, the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Abkhazia announced the release of Moscow businessman Gennady Sanaya, who was abducted on 24 August. The release took place on 23 October, according to the authorities, during a security operation in Abkhazia. However, local sources have affirmed Sanaya was released after the payment of a ransom. No more details have been published on Sanaya’s kidnapping. Sanaya, chairman of Moscow-based transport company Taxi Park, is the third high-profile businessman to have been abducted in Abkhazia this year. FULL ARTICLE

6. (SPAIN, 02/11/18) Home invasion and kidnapping in El Escorial

Five armed foreign men invaded a home in a wealthy neighbourhood of the locality of El Escorial, near Madrid. The residents were gagged and bound, while the criminals ransacked the property. The group then took the father of the family hostage and forced him to go with them. The man was returned to the property after two hours. While no details have emerged regarding his kidnapping, it is believed he was the victim of an express kidnapping, forced to withdraw funds from his bank accounts. The authorities have stated they believe this was a targeted assault, with the criminals seeming to have prior information on the family members and their wealth. It was not specified the nationality of the aggressors, but it is believed they may be Eastern Europeans. FULL ARTICLE

7. (NETHERLANDS, 02/11/18) Bitcoin ransom attack targets businesses in Holland

According to a local publication, emails have been sent out to several companies in Amersterdam, demanding €50,000 worth of Bitcoin and threatening to plant hand grenades in their business premises or gun attacks if this is not paid. Either action would result in the forced closure of the business, as the Dutch law requires businesses suffering such attacks to close up for a period of time. Targeted companies are instructed to open an account with one of two giant crypto exchanges, Coinbase or Coinmama, where they are to buy the demanded bitcoins and transfer them to a specific account. The criminals made it clear that the extortion fee would double to €100,000 if the payment is not made within five days, and quadruple if the authorities are informed. Reportedly, at least a nightclub and three coffee shops have received the mentioned threats since last summer. While this is not the first time that criminals have tried to extort digital currencies from businesses, the use of threats of violence in these schemes is uncommon. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

8. (LIBYA, 01/11/18) Human Rights group registered 223 victims of kidnapping in Libya

Human Rights Solidarity (HRS) said it registered 859 victims of abduction and assassination across Libya in the first nine months of 2018. HRS indicated that the majority of victims (83%) were civilians. From all recorded victims, 50% were linked to assassinations, 26% to kidnappings (225) and 15% to arrests. From those victims who were kidnapped, 26% were killed and 24% remain missing. According to the organisation, 89% of the crimes took place in only 12 cities. Benghazi recorded the highest number of incidents with 393 cases, followed by Tripoli with 67, Sabha with 63 and Al-Kufra with 53.FULL ARTICLE