Sunday, October 7, 2012

Brazil: EU Diplomat Victim of "Express Kidnapping" in Brasilia

According to EFE, an Italian member of the European Union’s diplomatic corps was the victim of an “express kidnapping” in the capital of Brasilia on Tuesday night (October 2).

The abduction occurred when two gunmen seized the diplomat in the capital's affluent Asa Sul district while he and a member of his family were getting into their car. The assailants forced the victims to take them to Ceilandia, a poor suburb where they were both released.

COMMENT: After stealing the family vehicle and other valuables, the kidnappers sped away and remain at large.

"Express kidnappings"--brief abductions at gunpoint, first emerged in Latin America in the 1980s--have now spread to several other regions of the world and pose a major threat to residents and travelers alike.

Such kidnappings as described above can occur while a target is walking on the street, getting into or exiting their vehicle and driving on local roadways and blocked by kidnappers' vehicles.

In most cases, kidnappers are armed, and particularly in Brazil, are not bashful in injuring or killing their victims if they encounter resistance.

Although Brasilia, designed as a capital from the ground up, has typically not had nearly the level of violent crime seen in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, "express kidnappings" have risen in recent months, particularly in the Asa Sul section, where an estimated five to ten short-term abductions occur DAILY. 

A month ago, the daughter of Brazil’s fishing and aquaculture minister, Marcelo Crivella, also was the victim of an express kidnapping in Asa Sul.

Most express kidnappings, as the phrase suggests, generally last no longer than a day or two and are designed to either make a time-sensitive ransom demand on the family of the person abducted or take the victim to an isolated ATM where they are forced to make a maximum withdrawal. 

In some cases, such victims are held over until the next day in order to be able to make another maximum withdrawal from the account.

Having assisted families and executives who have been the victims of express kidnappings since the 1980s, I would suggest the following to anyone who might be targeted:

1. NEVER resist an express kidnapping. Doing so is surely to result in injury or death;

2. Do not keep more than an US$1,500 in an ATM or check card account, as it might well prolong the abduction, yet still provide criminals a profitable day;

3. Petrol stations are a common target area for express kidnappings;

4. It is unwise NOT to carry an ATM or check card on your person as not having a profitable day can render kidnappers even more unsavory and belligerent;

5. Don't sit in a vehicle waiting for someone with the motor running in neutral, as such a situations often can precipitate an express kidnapping;

6. Depending on the financial resources available to targets, consideration of a fully-armored, medium-sized vehicle appropriate to the locale should not be ruled out;

7. Discuss with your family in advance of an express kidnapping as to how you plan to respond to both a short-term and long-term abduction; and

8. Always be vigilant of the behavior of others when entering or exiting your vehicle or walking on the street as a pedestrian, which may suggest indicators of an imminent threat.