El Salvador has seen a 50 percent drop in the number of kidnappings in 2011 compared to the previous year, according to an organized crime prosecutor.
Of the 50 cases reported in 2011, only 20 were determined to be actual kidnappings, while 33 other incidents were classified as extortion, said Rodolfo Delgado, chief prosecutor in the Attorney General's Special Unit for Organized Crime, Rodolfo Delgado.
Despite the declining numbers, Delgado voiced concerns about the participation of ex-offenders in these crimes, according to La Prensa Grafica newspaper. Criminals convicted prior to 2001, when legal reforms increased penalties for kidnapping, have now completed their sentences and, according to the chief prosecutor, are reoffending.
Delgado blamed the recent surge in "express kidnappings" in Guazapa, located northeast of San Salvador, on recidivist criminals who have allied with gangs in the region. Express kidnappings are those when the victim is held only for a few hours, and made to handover money from their bank accounts.
Kidnapping rings in El Salvador are allied with prison gangs and are responsible for the high fatality rate of kidnapping victims. Of the 45 kidnappings committed last year, 14 ended with the victim being murdered, reported the newspaper.