Three members of a highly-organized, bilingual and well-educated gang of kidnappers, largely comprised of women, were arrested last weekend, including two women and a man. Often referred to as the "Gang of Blondes" in local media, the group began in 2008 with burglarizing high-end condos and then graduated to "express kidnapping" [abductions ranging from several hours to a few days], the group's tactic was to "tail" well-to-do shoppers in trendy malls and then abduct them as they approached their cars, later maxing out credit, debit and ATM cards while the targets were held. The group principally worked both Rio and Sao Paulo and is credited with some 54 "express kidnappinmgs."
COMMENT: Police in Sao Paulo have reportedly identified all six members of the group and hope to finalize arrests in coming days. Women have been used in conjunction with "express kidnappings" for years, but this is the first group in Latin America that has eluded police for so long. Visitors to both Rio and Sao Paulo are urged to "dress down" and avoid wearing expensive or expensive-looking jewelry.