HomeNewsBriefRescue of Children in Bolivia Spotlights Practice of Narco-Kidnapping
BRIEF

Rescue of Children in Bolivia Spotlights Practice of Narco-Kidnapping

BOLIVIA / 26 MAR 2014 BY MIMI YAGOUB EN

Police in Bolivia have freed two children kidnapped by drug traffickers after their cocaine "mule" mother was arrested in Spain, in an example of a rarely reported but highly common form of extortion used by criminal groups across Latin America.

The two boys -- a three-month-old baby and an 11-year-old -- were rescued by Bolivian and Spanish security forces on Monday after spending around a week in captivity, reported El Pais.

Their abductors were reportedly a group of drug traffickers in the city of Santa Cruz who used Spanish national Noelia Magaña to smuggle a kilo of cocaine to her home country. Magaña then sold the bulk of the drugs and was about to head back to Bolivia when she was arrested on March 16 in her hometown of Yecla, Murcia with the 35 grams of cocaine that remained.

The traffickers believed she had decided to keep the money, and consequently kidnapped two of her children to force her and her family to return the profits. During this time the suspects called and sent messages to relatives demanding thousands of Euros in payment, reported El Pais.

The children, Manuel and Francisco, may be repatriated to Spain in the near future.

InSight Crime Analysis

The case in Bolivia exemplifies the largely unreported practice of narco-kidnapping, which is used as leverage in the drug trade either as a form of guarantee that debts will be honored and traffickers will be paid, or to silence liabilities who have been arrested.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Kidnapping

The practice is particularly prevalent in Colombia, and Colombian criminal organizations working internationally are renowned for preferring to work with their compatriots so they can use families back home as a form of insurance.

This is not a new phenomenon in Bolivia, either, as shown by other cases that have come to light in recent years. In November 2013, for example, the 13-year-old son of a drug trafficker was reportedly held captive to settle a drug debt, while in June 2011 the wife of a drug trafficker was kidnapped over a $7 million debt.

While such narco-kidnappings are a relatively common occurrence, they are rarely reported, as the victims do not want to risk shining a light on their own illegal activities.

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

COVID AND CRIME / 12 JAN 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has forced migrant shelters in Mexico to close or limit capacity, exacerbating an already precarious situation for…

BOLIVIA / 1 APR 2022

Millions of young people around the world document their experiences at work, at school or with their friends on TikTok.

CARIBBEAN / 3 AUG 2022

A rural gang is causing mayhem in northern Haiti, displaying tactics more commonly used by urban armed groups concentrated in…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…