Colombian police on Wednesday captured alleged members of a criminal group that used Facebook to select, kidnap and torture its victims.
The group would contact wealthy men using false Facebook profiles of beautiful women. They kept up online conversations with the men for several weeks before proposing a date.
“When these men arrived at the site, supposedly to meet the women, they were dosed with scopolamine,” said Humberto Guatibonza, director of the anti-kidnapping and extortion unit of Colombia’s national police. Scopolamine is an odorless and tasteless drug that eliminates free will and erases the memory of its victims.
Then the men were taken to a different location and tortured, Guatibonza said. Only then did the group call the men’s families for their ransom.
The group not only used Facebook to lure men to the kidnapping site—they also used it to find their victims.
“This organization chose its victims very well, through a simple analysis of personal and family information gleaned through profile information and photos,” Guatibonza said. “People use these social networks to post photos of their homes or possessions, like cars or farms.”
After months of investigation, police arrested four members of this group with the help of the released kidnapping victims. The leader of the group, who has been caught, is under investigation for the murder of some of the hostages.
Guatibonza would not release details about the identities of the arrested gang members.