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.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
Prev Next

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...