An American security consultant who has helped negotiate the release of scores of kidnapping victims in Latin America was himself kidnapped last week in northern Mexico after delivering a seminar there on how to avoid that fate, officials said Monday.
The F.B.I. and Mexican law enforcement officials are investigating the abduction, which took place Wednesday evening in Saltillo, an industrial city a three-hour drive from the Texas border.
The consultant, Felix Batista, 55, was giving security seminars for business owners in Coahuila State when he was abducted by a group of armed men.
He arrived Dec. 6 and gave two seminars on Monday and Tuesday, the local news media reported. On Wednesday, he met with police officials, and later in the day, he was in a restaurant when he received a call on his cellphone that prompted him to get up and leave, officials told the local news media. That is when the armed men took him away, officials and local newspapers said.
The kidnapping industry goes hand-in-hand with the drug wars:
At a private security conference in Tijuana in February, Mr. Batista said kidnappings in northern Mexico were especially delicate because drug traffickers were frequently involved.
“The narco-kidnappers are not looking for chump change,” he was quoted as saying by McClatchy Newspapers in April. “It’s a pretty darn good side business.”
Hundreds of Mexicans are kidnapped every year, although the authorities can only guess at the exact figure because most cases are never reported. There is widespread agreement that the problem has worsened recently as drug cartels, facing pressure from the army and the federal police, seek new revenue streams.
Noticias24 also adds that Batista had negotiated ransoms both in the USA and in Latin America.
This year, in the January-October 2008 period, Mexican authorities have reported 943 kidnappings. Most kidnappings, however, go unreported.
Violence continues in Mexico