Bolivia Narco-Kidnapping Could Mark Growing Trend

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Police in Bolivia have rescued a 13-year old child kidnapped over a drug debt, drawing attention to a crime that is likely to increase as transnational organized crime spreads and takes root in that country.

On November 2, four men dressed as police officers took the teenager from his house in the city of Cochabamba, reported Jornada.

At first, the kidnappers demanded $30,000 from the boy’s family, but within hours they had raised the ransom demanding an extra $25,000, reported La Razon

After the family contacted the police the next day, officers arrested three men and accused them of taking the boy, who was rescued from a nearby house, where he was found blindfolded and with his hands and feet shackled.

According to police, one of the suspects said the child was the son of a drug trafficker and the money was to settle a debt he owed the kidnappers’ employers.

InSight Crime Analysis

It is common practice in the underworld to hold family members of drug traffickers hostage to settle disputes over payment. This is not the first such case in Bolivia, and with transnational organized crime groups seeking to increase their influence in the country, it is likely to become a more common occurrence.

However, it is not the only type of kidnapping witnessed in Bolivia linked to criminal migration. In recent months, police dismantled a kidnapping ring that included eight Bolivians and six Colombians, which operated in Santa Cruz.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Kidnapping

Colombian criminal groups are known to be particularly prevalent in the Bolivian underworld, and it is not surprising some would choose to utilize skills honed in Colombia in new, and less prepared territories. Colombian kidnapping rings already operate abroad; Venezuela is a particularly favored destination.

While there have yet to be sufficient cases to identify this as part of a broader trend, kidnappings are evidently a rising concern for the authorities. Earlier in the week, the police launched a new specialist anti-kidnapping and extortion squad, which will operate out of the country’s drug trafficking heartland — Santa Cruz.

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