Mexico suffered an average of 49 kidnappings a day during 2011 according to the NGO Consejo para la Ley y los Derechos Humanos (CLDH), an increase of 32 percent over the previous year.

Not included in the CLDH statistics are “express kidnappings” where victims are held for a matter of hours, either for low ransoms quickly paid by family members, or where victims' cashpoint cards are used to access accounts.  In Mexico City alone there are believed to be dozens of such kidnappings every day.

The CLDH report also highlighted the increasing sophistication of some of the Mexican kidnapping gangs, which conduct negotiations and ransom payments outside the country to hinder detection and tracking by law enforcement. The NGO also insisted that corrupt elements of the security forces are often involved in abductions and that their role is increasing.

InSight Crime Analysis
The situation of kidnapping in Mexico is becoming increasingly complicated as groups previously associated exclusively with drug trafficking diversify their criminal portfolios and engage in kidnapping. Many independent kidnapping gangs use the names of established criminal groups like the ‘Zetas’ to add more weight and terror to their ransom demands.

Another element of the Mexican kidnapping world, which is almost impossible to track, is the abduction of illegal immigrants as they travel northwards from Central America to the US.  These individuals are in the country illegally and unregistered, so usually will not report kidnappings, and nor will their families, who pay the ransoms often via wire transfers.