Saturday, May 12, 2012

México: Attorney General Offers US$1.2 Billion to Resolve Kidnap Cases

According to EFE, the Attorney General’s Office announced on Friday (May 12) that it will offer up to 16.5 billion pesos (US$1.2 billion) as an enticement for information leading to the rescue of eleven kidnap victims and the arrest of their captors.

Most of the captives for which the reward money is being offered go back as far as 2008-2010 in the states of Nuevo Leon, Guerrero and Veracruz.

COMMENT: Unfortunately, while announcing money rewards can make governments look like they're doing something, the strategy rarely works, largely because the crime of kidnapping depends so heavily on secrecy between the perpetrators and those from whom monetary demands have been made.

Although officially six kidnappings are reported daily, the actual number is much closer to 50-60 each day, largely because only 10% of kidnappings are reported to the police in México. And for good reason: Cops or ex-cops are often involved in kidnapping operations themselves or if they know of a kidnapping, they often try to make money from it, by taking a cut of the ransom for themselves.

Last year (2011), the Mexican Congress passed a law authorizing prison terms of up to 70 years for kidnapping. Yet, this strategy, too, is largely ineffective because the clearance rate on kidnappings is so low.