A goalkeeper suspended from a first-division soccer team in Monterrey, north Mexico, has been arrested on charges of helping a kidnapping ring to select wealthy targets.
Omar Ortiz, known as “El Gato,” was suspended almost two years ago after failing a drug test for banned steroids. He then allegedly became involved with a group that kidnapped wealthy people to extort money from them.
The group was linked to the Gulf Cartel, and was responsible for some 20 abductions, according to the authorities. Ortiz's alleged role was to help them choose targets, as he moved in well-heeled social circles.
Mexican media have reported that Ortiz began working with the group after suffering financial difficulties because of his suspension.
InSight Crime Analysis
Kidnappings spiked dramatically in Mexico in 2011, increasing by more than a third from the previous year, according to a government report.
The rise has been driven in part by criminal groups moving into abduction as a safer source of revenue, as the government cracks down on the drug trade. This latest evidence that gangs are hiring "insiders" in the monied classes to help them target victims is an indication that some groups may be using more sophisticated tactics, aiming to extort large amounts of money at one time, instead of kidnapping indiscriminately.