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elcomputo

Dec 18, 2004, 8:04 PM

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Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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Marauding drug gangs in a violent Mexican border city have turned to kidnapping U.S. citizens for ransom as they seek to diversify their criminal activities, the U.S. government warned on Friday.

The U.S. consul in Nuevo Laredo, which lies south of the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas, said 22 U.S. citizens have been either kidnapped or disappeared while visiting the city since mid-August.


The recent spike contrasted with an average of three or four abductions annually in the city in recent years, and has been linked by law enforcement sources to drug-cartel activity, consul Michael Yoder said.


"Narcotraffickers have now turned to kidnapping for ransom, and we felt that it gave sufficient cause for concern to issue a public caution," Yoder told Reuters in a telephone interview.

As I could not find this reported in the MexConnect news section, I thought I would drop it here for general consumption. It is a portion of a longer article carried by Yahoo news. Mentioned also in the article was that the actual number of kidnappings may have been higher, as some ransoms are paid without the authorities on either side of the border being notified.


Although Nuevo Laredo is a port of entry and exit for many of us, I suspect that few expats stop there for any length of time. (My only experience with the place has been confined to the interior of the bus terminal.) But this article serves to reinforce my general opinion of certain Mexican border towns such as Ciudad Juarez -- and now Nuevo Laredo -- as being rather lawless places that are best avoided.




raferguson


Dec 18, 2004, 9:15 PM

Post #2 of 15 (2314 views)

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Re: [elcomputo] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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I found the text off the Nuevo Laredo US consul's website. It mentions that in 9 cases, ransoms were paid and the victims returned to their families, in 2 cases the bodies were found, and in 10 cases the whereabouts of the victim is unknown. The link is below.

http://nuevolaredo.usconsulate.gov/.../Warden_Message.html

The message also mentions express kidnappings, and that kidnappings are not only of the rich, but also of the middle class.

I checked the US state department consular information sheets, which cover the entire country, and they have not updated their sheet since July. The state department information mentions kidnapping and border towns, but the US consul message is more pointed.

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


NEOhio

Dec 18, 2004, 11:37 PM

Post #3 of 15 (2302 views)

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Re: [raferguson] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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Well, after reading the consul statement I am going to be seriously cautious driving down to Ajijic by myself in mid-February.

It does seem a bit odd though that there hasn't been any statement or publicity seeking from anyone of the returned/ransomed Americans - wouldn't you expect at least one of them to want 15 minutes of fame talking to Katie Couric or Diane Sawyer on some evening news magazine.

Just doesn't seem reasonable that there wouldn't be a media blip of it anywhere to be found, except on the official consul page -- odd.

If anyone finds an additional source of information about these kidnapping/ransoms please let us know.


Marlene


Dec 19, 2004, 12:03 AM

Post #4 of 15 (2301 views)

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Re: [NEOhio] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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I have to think that it may be a little like our state of Sinaloa. It is folks in the "business" that are at risk and not random by-standers or passers-by.


NEOhio

Dec 19, 2004, 12:30 AM

Post #5 of 15 (2298 views)

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Re: [Marlene] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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That is the first thing that comes to mind. Doesn't it make you unhappy that the statement is without qualifiers as to who is being kidnaped thus making it seem unsafe to all rather than to some. But then when have government issued statements ever provided clarity on a subject.

How's that turkey doing? (not that the gov't guys a turkey, LOL)


raferguson


Dec 19, 2004, 10:49 AM

Post #6 of 15 (2248 views)

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Re: [Marlene] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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Based on what I have read, the idea that kidnappings only happen to the rich and famous or crime families is a misconception. Because many of those people now have armed bodyguards and armored cars, the kidnappers have been moving down the economic scale. The express kidnappings are often more or less random, they just pick a likely looking person, and try to get some quick money out of their family.

"Big businessmen aren't the only ones being kidnapped anymore," Bishop Jose Guadalupe Martin Rabago of Leon, president of the Mexican bishops' conference, told reporters June 13 (2004). (Catholic News Service) "There are people kidnapped for 15,000 or 20,000 pesos (US$1,350-US $1,750) and sometimes they're killed over that minimal amount," he said.

According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, September 17, 2002, "We're seeing more cases in small villages where a shop owner is kidnapped for somewhere around 5,000 to 10,000 pesos [about $500 to $1,000]"

Richard


http://www.fergusonsculpture.com


kirkswig


Dec 19, 2004, 4:05 PM

Post #7 of 15 (2206 views)

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Re: [elcomputo] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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Here's a link to the story in full.

It seems unlikely to me that drug traffickers -- who after all already enjoy a good deal of prosperity -- would stoop to something like this, especially when it would only compromise their ability to perform their "day job" (unless it's like Marlene says, that the victims were competitors.) It seems far more likely to me that this is just another case of the U.S. government seizing upon any bad news as an opportunity to drum up support for the disaster they call the war on drugs.

And you rarely hear anything about all the kidnappings that take place NOB, unless of course it involves a rich, powerful person, or a child (and if it's the child of a rich or powerful person, then watch out: you end up with a media sensation like Elizabeth Smart.) I am personally acquainted with someone in Texas who just saw his grown daughter disappear, and who suddenly found himself competing with dozens of other families for attention from law enforcement. Just in one county. Her disappearence has so far rated two news stories on local TV, and that's it.

To boldly go where no wig has gone before.


Georgia


Dec 20, 2004, 8:17 AM

Post #8 of 15 (2145 views)

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Re: [NEOhio] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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Another reason to take the Colombia Bridge. The guards there (at Colombia) warned us not to go into Nuevo Laredo, nor to stop for anybody along the road near Nuevo Laredo.


alex .

Dec 20, 2004, 9:59 AM

Post #9 of 15 (2128 views)

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Re: [elcomputo] also: fake kindappings engineered by coyotes

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This is a means of extracting money from relatives of illegal crossers. A hapless border crosser- to- be gets off the bus from El Sur in, say, Agua Prieta. He is approached with an offer to facilitate the crossing and during the negotiation process is asked "Who do we contact in the US , to notify of your safe arrival?" The coyote then leaves,places a phone call in the middle of the night , saying something to the effect that they have so-and so and to wire money to the Western Union office for his release. They are not actually holding him hostage at all. They get the cash , taking no risk.
Alex


jennifer rose

Dec 20, 2004, 10:37 AM

Post #10 of 15 (2114 views)

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Re: [elcomputo] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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We are not talkiing about Iraq or even the South Bronx. Plenty of folks spend time in Nuevo Laredo, shopping, eating, and even sleeping with nary a problem. And it's a destination for far more than those who are simply passing through to or from an expatriate life. It's a matter of how you present yourself and where you go.

Which leads to an opportunity to tell you one of my border tales. A true one. A couple of years ago, a friend accompanied me as we traversed the border southward around 3 a.m., insisting that his expired passport would be good enough for Mexican immigration. Ha! It wasn't, and he was sent back to get an affidavit of citizenship. Having won the argument, I just didn't feel like driving back across the bridge with the Suburban loaded with loot, so I offered to wait by a park in the, uh, less than glamorous district while my friend walked back. And so I sat in the 'burban, doors locked with Beto the Perfect Doberman, drinking coffee and reading a book, watching the night workers ply their trade, bothered by no one.


alex .

Dec 20, 2004, 12:38 PM

Post #11 of 15 (2090 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Isn't that odd ?

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Just because one's passport is expired doesn't mean that one's citizenship is expired. I know : try convincing the authorities.
Alex


Bubba

Dec 20, 2004, 2:34 PM

Post #12 of 15 (2073 views)

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Re: [jennifer rose] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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There are several very nice hotels in Nueva Laredo including, at the top end, the Hilton Garden Inn and the Fiesta Inn. These hotels are adjacent to an upscale shopping center with several good restaurants. I have heard that there are other nice places to visit there.

The people at the Colombia Bridge must have been pulling your chain.


Georgia


Jan 22, 2005, 8:45 PM

Post #13 of 15 (1932 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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So, I guess they weren't pulling my chain after all.


Bubba

Jan 23, 2005, 10:33 AM

Post #14 of 15 (1878 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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Chicken Bubba Sez:

See you at the Colombia Bridge crossing, Georgia. NOT!

I do think that we need to take alarmist warnings by border personnel whether on the Mexican or U.S. side with a grain of salt. One might even posit that a randomly encountered border guard spreading fearsome tales of rampant crime is not the best source of information for the traveler. When I lived and worked as a banker in Downtown Oakland during the times of the Black Panther Party, Huey Newton, the SLA and food and free speech riots in West Oakland and Berkeley, there is nothing I enjoyed more than scaring the crap out of my regional supervisor in San Francisco by telling him that he should always carry a wad of $20 Bills to bribe his way from the nearest BART station to my branch. As a consequence of my little humorous exaggeration regarding the dangers to be encountered in the East Bay, I was rarely visited by the powers-that-be at headquarters across the bay. The truth is that Huey Newton, who lived just up the street in a penthouse apartment at the time, was a customer of mine as was a group of white thugs calling themselves Oakland cops whose violence in the projects and racism would have qualified them for Klan membership had they been members of the police force in Selma.

Tell me your banking clientele was more interesting in Waukegan.

Anyway, I, having lived and worked (by choice) in several social war zones, know that negative events tend to be exaggerated by outsiders looking in from even a short distance away. This situation is exacerbated by media attention and thus the current focus on Nuevo Laredo. Towns with an edge can be more interesting than placid communities that never rise to the level of social ferment. Bubba had the good fortune to live near Birmingham during the apex of the struggle for civil rights, Los Angeles during the Watts riots, San Francisco during the Summer of Love and Oakland when that city appeared to be coming apart at the seams. I even had human feces thrown at me as I walked to a temporary banking assignment near Berkeley's Telegraph Avenue simply because I was wearing a suit. I survived all that and had fun in the process. I even took part in some of that stuff.

I reprised the subject of crime in and around Nuevo Laredo because I ran across the article about crime in Nuevo Laredo in the Washington Post at about the same time that I noticed what appeared to me to be a spike in reporting about drug related violence across Mexico in the Mexican media. I noticed that street executions of individuals involved in drug trafficking or law enforcement normally relegated to the "Community" or "State" sections of large city Mexican dailies were suddenly assigned front page status. I thought that was worthy of comment on this forum.

When I return to Nuevo Laredo as I must in a few months, I will once again stay at the very pleasant and upscale Fiesta Inn in that town and enjoy dinner by walking a few blocks to the nearby shopping mall with a number of nice places to eat. I will drive from there the few miles to the border bridge through downtown Nuevo Laredo, keeping a low profile all the while and take care of my business across the border. I'll have better odds at coming home alive than I would walking around New Orleans at night. Colombia Bridge be damned.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Jan 23, 2005, 11:34 AM)


milgracias

Jan 23, 2005, 11:08 AM

Post #15 of 15 (1864 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo

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The Washington Post printed this article yesterday with the following headline: "Americans Vanish in Mexican town" :

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27657-2005Jan21.html?referrer=emailarticlepg

If this link doesn't work, go to www.washingtonpost.com (you have to sign in, but it's free) and search for this article by Mary Jordan.


(This post was edited by milgracias on Jan 23, 2005, 1:24 PM)
 
 
 
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