HomeNewsBriefKidnapping Wave Hits Major Highways in Argentina
BRIEF

Kidnapping Wave Hits Major Highways in Argentina

ARGENTINA / 19 JUL 2012 BY TRACEY KNOTT EN

A series of "express kidnappings" by gangs on major roads in the Buenos Aires area have sparked fears of a security crisis on Argentina's roads, though the gangs do not seem to be highly sophisticated operators capable of holding hostages for extended periods.

According to La Nacion, the highways near the Argentine capital are becoming increasingly dangerous for motorists. Several independent gangs now operate along these roads, kidnapping and robbing drivers.

The editorial warns that the government’s inability to address the crime wave could mark the beginning of a security crisis, with drivers unable move freely on the highways.

Three gangs are known for committing this type of robbery along the main Buenos Aires freeway. One of them, the Gang of the West -- named for the portion of the road it controls -- is reported to be responsible for numerous abductions, including that of a pilot from Argentine Airlines.

Choosing victims according to the quality of their vehicles, gang members will surround a victim’s car, cutting them off from escape routes. The gang then force the victim to lead them to their home, and then rob it. Both the British and US governments warn travellers to Argentina about these express kidnappings. This type of short-term kidnapping is far more common in countries like Venezuela and Mexico.

InSight Crime Analysis

Express kidnappings in Argentina have involved high-profile victims connected to the government, businesses, and media. Recent victims include two professional soccer players, Daniel Villalva and Juan Cazares, as well as the former wife of an advisor to the vice president.

Wealthier victims are sometimes held for longer periods, with a ransom demanded for their release. La Nacion reports that the Gang of the West has made tens of thousands of dollars from the ransoms. However, the US State Department has said that these longer-term kidnappings are rare compared to express kidnappings in Argentina

Argentina’s wave of abductions does not appear connected to any other form of organized crime, although the country is increasingly facing a threat from gangs running drug and sex trafficking networks. The simplicity of the abductions may point to a lack of sophistication among the gangs; although the gang members are able to effectively target and capture their victims, the fact that the majority of the victims are only held for short periods may indicate the gangs’ inability to deal with the logistical complexities of long-term kidnapping, such as having a safe house to in which to keep the victim, and contacting their family to demand money.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

ARGENTINA / 19 JUL 2022

Two Argentine restaurateurs residing in Spain are wanted for allegedly using yachts to send cocaine between South America and Europe.

CARIBBEAN / 11 APR 2022

Kidnappings in Haiti have increased during the first three months of 2022, continuing a grim surge that began last year…

ARGENTINA / 24 SEP 2021

An influx of contraband chicken from Argentina into Paraguay has overwhelmed the local market and is threatening to put local…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…

THE ORGANIZATION

‘Ndrangheta Investigation, Exclusive Interview With Suriname President Make Waves

2 DEC 2022

Two weeks ago, InSight Crime published an investigation into how Italian mafia clan the ‘Ndrangheta built a cocaine trafficking network from South America to ‘Ndrangheta-controlled Italian ports. The investigation generated…