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.

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.

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 4 OCT 2012

Bolivia announced it will install a permanent base in the eastern department of Santa Cruz to counter drug trafficking in…

BOLIVIA / 6 JUL 2016

Coca cultivation in Bolivia has reached its lowest levels since United Nations monitoring began in 2003, moving the…

BOLIVIA / 19 OCT 2012

The Bolivian government has vowed to crack down on the thriving trade in vehicles stolen in neighboring countries and trafficked…

Institutional Content

THE ORGANIZATION

Strategic Communications Manager Job Description

12 FEB 2021

InSight Crime is looking for a full-time strategic communications manager. This person needs to be able to work in a fast-paced world of daily news, high-profile investigations, national and international…

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …