Expert on avoiding kidnapping is kidnapped in Mexico
Mexico has a really bad problem with kidnappings. It’s so bad, that even experts on how to avoid being kidnapped, like American Felix Batista, get kidnapped. Batista works for Houston-based ASI Global, a security firm, and was recently kidnapped just after giving a seminar on how to avoid that fate. It is thought that police, who were among the few who knew of his whereabouts, tipped off the criminals, who probably wanted to send a message with the kidnapping.
Law enforcement officers and officials frequently are implicated in kidnapping in our neighbor to the south. Several were recently arrested for the kidnapping a murder of a 14-year-old Fernando Marti a few months ago. Many Mexicans don’t even go to the police when they get ransom demands; they figure it’s far better to handle the matter themselves. Kidnapping is a big business south of the border; it’s usually done by drug cartels for the ransom money, but occasionally, as in the case of Mr. Batista, is done to send a message as well.
Fully 5% of the country’s 106 million people report having been kidnapped or having known someone who was kidnapped. And 45% of Mexicans who have a phone said they’ve been victims of telephone extortion, in which someone has called them, claimed they’ve abducted a family member, and demand ransom money. These claims are often false, but abductions are so common there that they’re plausible and often result in ransoms being paid anyway. In the cases of real kidnappings, the captors often mail back the victims body parts, like ears and fingers, if the money isn’t paid quickly enough.
To counter these threats, wealthy Mexicans have taken to hiring armed security guards, living in what amount to fortified compounds, and riding around in armored vehicles (though doing so didn’t help Fernando Marti). And now the LA Times is reporting that some are having tiny transmitters inserted under their skin that can transmit their location to orbiting satellites in the event that they’re captured.
According to official statistics, 65 people are kidnapped each month; but since most aren’t reported, the actual number is estimated to be about 500 per month by some observers. Earlier this year 100,000 people demonstrated in Mexico City for the government to do more to solve the problem. Hopefully their demands will be met.