Kidnap & Ransom update November 8, 2018
8-Nov-18

AMERICAS

1. (MEXICO, 07/11/18) Tiger kidnapping in Sinaloa

The manager of a bank in Culiacan, Sinaloa State, was kidnapped along with her family, in order to force her to surrender money from the bank she worked at. The incident took place at 10 am on 7 November, when armed men broke into the manager’s home and took all the residents hostage, including minors. The criminals then forced the family to go with them to the bank where the woman worked. Once there, while her family was being held inside a car, the manager was forced to open the bank’s safe. Some of the criminals also threatened other bank employees to give them the money available on the floor, around 2 million pesos (over USD 100,000). Meanwhile, an eyewitness reported the incident to the local authorities, who responded immediately, frustrating the robbery and rescuing all the hostages. FULL ARTICLE

2. (COLOMBIA, 07/11/18) Colombia leads cyber-extortion in Latin America in 2018

According to Slovak cyber-security firm ESET, Colombia has been the Latin American country with the highest number of cyber-extortion cases in 2018. ESET said that Colombia recorded 28% of the cases recorded in the region, followed by Peru (17%), Mexico (15%), Brazil (11%), Argentina (9%), Chile, Ecuador and Venezuela (4% each). The firm assesses much of this was related to the targeted campaign carried by the Crysis virus in Colombia, which accounted for 79% of the cases registered in the country. Other ransomware affecting Colombia in 2018 were TeslaCrypt (4%) and Locky (2%). According to ESET data, Latin America represents 13% of the “ransomware” detections in the world. FULL ARTICLE

3. (VENEZUELA, 08/11/18) Elderly Spaniard held for five days

A Spanish businessman was released on 1 November, after being held for five days by kidnappers in Venezuela. Valentin Garcia was kidnapped on 28 October as he travelled in a taxi from Caracas to Bolivar state. On the way, the taxi was stopped at an illegal checkpoint and the occupants (Garcia, a local woman and the driver) were forced to descend the vehicle. They were then taken to a safe house located in a jungle area. On the same day, the kidnappers contacted Garcia’s relatives in Spain, initially demanding USD 10,000. The relatives reported the incident to the Spanish authorities, who advised them and liaised with their Venezuelan counterparts. After negotiations, the ransom was reduced to USD 5,000 and finally to USD 800 and a bottle of liquor. However, during the process of the payment, the kidnappers went back on their word and raised the demand, kidnapping also the people sent to pay the ransom. The Venezuelan police then carried out a rescue operation, reportedly with the participation of 200 members of the agency, who engaged in a shootout with the criminals. In the altercation one kidnapper was killed but all victims were recovered unharmed. FULL ARTICLE

EUROPE

4. (RUSSIA, 07/11/18) Samara kidnapping linked to Azerbaijani criminals

According to authorities in the city of Samara, an organized criminal group from Azerbaijan may be implicated in an abduction recently reported in the city. Unknown assailants entered a vegetable market in the Olympic area, kidnapping an employee. The kidnappers have reportedly demanded a ransom of 1.5 million roubles (USD 22,700) from the victim’s relatives. The suspected group is known to the local authorities for other criminal activities, mainly illegal banking. Given the profile of the victim, it is likely the man had links to the group. FULL ARTICLE

AFRICA

5. (CAMEROON, 08/11/18) Kidnapped students released

Kidnappers, believed to be Anglophone secessionists, freed dozens of abducted school children and a staff member. However, the school principal and one teacher remain in captivity. The armed men seized the group comprising 79 youngsters and three employees, on 5 November, in the city of Bamenda. Samuel Fonki, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon, who negotiated the release of the children, said no ransom had been paid, but gave no more details on the circumstances leading to their release. Media sources said the militants had demanded that the school be shut down, instead of a ransom. On the same day of the incident, a video of the kidnapped children was released on social media by self-described armed separatists who called themselves Amba boys. FULL ARTICLE (1)

ASIA

6. (PHILIPPINES, 07/11/18) Abducted Chinese man rescued in Bulacan

A 33-year-old Chinese national was found alive in Bustos town, three days after he was kidnapped outside the Solaire Resort and Casino in Pasay City on 4 November. Lou Hao was reportedly found roaming alone by residents of Sitio Iwad, on 7 November. Hao bore multiple superficial injuries but was otherwise in good health. Speaking through an interpreter, Hao claimed he was abducted by four Chinese men, who demanded he paid them HKD 100,000 (USD 12,800). When he could not give them the cash, Hao’s captors dragged him inside a vehicle and took him to Bustos. The circumstances of his release are not clear. FULL ARTICLE