A wave of “express kidnappings” has hit Buenos Aires in the last few weeks, a recurring crime in Argentina’s capital city that may become a security priority for President Mauricio Macri.
From March 20 to March 31, authorities registered at least 16 express kidnappings in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area, reported Clarin.
According to Clarin, the victims of these kidnappings are of all ages and social classes. Although the abductions frequently occur while the victims are driving, gangs have recently begun targeting people in their homes or near schools.
The term “express” or “lightning” kidnapping takes its name from the crime’s “speed, lack of infrastructure — criminals use cars as the place of captivity — and the manner of selection of the victims,” Clarin reported.
Kidnappers hold the victims for no more than a few hours while their families gather the money to pay the ransoms, which can be up to $150,000.
Police arrested seven kidnapping suspects over the weekend as part of a series of 12 raids in Buenos Aires.
InSight Crime Analysis
Kidnapping is a persistent problem in Argentina, and Buenos Aires in particular. Authorities registered nearly 700 reports of kidnappings nationwide during the first nine months of 2014, with almost 30 percent occurring in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area.
Although express kidnappings require only rudimentary resources, some groups have reportedly employed sophisticated tactics such as covertly listening to police radio frequencies in order to avoid arrest. One kidnapping network operating in the area allegedly includes former and current police officers and former rebels of Peruvian insurgency group the Shining Path.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Kidnapping
Kidnappings may become a security priority for President Mauricio Macri, who promised to crackdown on crime and insecurity shortly after being elected last November. Since taking office Macri has focused his efforts against organized crime and drug trafficking groups, but he may soon turn his attention to the smaller criminal networks driving up kidnapping rates in the nation’s capital.