The Colombian National Police’s anti-kidnapping and extortion units (GAULA) have captured a Colombian man believed to be the brains behind a kidnapping network based in Mexico, national news reported on Tuesday.
Arrested on Monday, Eider Yilbey Echeverry Jimenez, alias “El Zarco,” was reportedly the Colombia-based contact for Mexican criminal organizations dedicated to kidnapping tourists.
FACT SHEET: Colombia kidnapping statistics 1980 – present
The 36-year-old would identify the victims from Colombia and later act as the mediator between the criminals and the respective families, the news platform AFP reported on Tuesday.
“What we know is that this criminal was in contact with Mexican kidnappers and that he was in contact with the families,” the General Director of the National Police, Rodolfo Palomino, said in a press conference.
Police sources reportedly told the AFP that it was unclear what kind of contact El Zarco maintained with the kidnappers nor how their victims were “marked,” but that they hope to uncover more information during the investigative process.
The arrest came about following investigations into the kidnapping of Colombian citizen Jhon Jairo Guzman Vasquez who, after enduring two months of captivity in Mexico while his family were extorted for $6 million or their properties, managed to escape and ask the local consular authorities for help.
Investigations also revealed that El Zarco also belonged to a Cali-based criminal gang that carried out micro-extortion and kidnapping.
The detainee will now have to appear in court under charges of “aggravated extortive kidnapping.”
According to Mexico’s official statistics, over 105,000 kidnappings took place in 2012, though only 1,317 were reported.
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