Tuesday, November 13, 2012

México: Update on 8-Month Old Abduction; Families Need to Retain a Negotiator From Outset

According to EFE,  Spanish expat and industrialist, José Luís Crespo de las Casas, whose 36-year-old son, José Luís Crespo Llabre, was kidnapped on February 4, in Tepic [Nayarit] has identified the whereabouts of his captive son on three occasions for Mexican police, only for them to botch or delay a timely rescue.

Crespo de las Casas, a native of the Canary Islands has lived in México for 33 years, where he has operated a natural fertilizer firm.

COMMENT: Although initially the father of the victim chose not to notify local police, he did so after he received one of his son's ears at his home. 

Unfortunately for Crespo de las Casas, he erred in not bringing in an experienced negotiator to serve as an intermediary in securing the release of his son. After receipt of his son's ear, though, he pleaded with an Mexican Army commander in Tepic as well as the Nayarit Attorney General's Office (NAGO), for assistance.

On the advise of the NAGO, the Spanish expat left $40,800 for the kidnappers at a prearranged location. After verifying the amount, the kidnappers advised Crespo de las Casas a location where his son could be picked up. Sadly, though, the son was never released.

I have actually worked on a number of Mexican kidnappings as an intermediary, none of which were reported to local police. That continues to be my preference, considering that some police agencies in México are complicit in kidnappings themselves and often either jeopardize the kidnap victim or demand a "cut" of the ransom payment themselves.

Sadly, Sr. Crespo de las Casas has received little to no help from Mexican authorities. Understandably,  the Spanish Embassy in México City was not helpful because they may philosophically disagree with the payment of ransom. 

Out of frustration, the father resorted to contacting the media, which is never a good thing, because it further complicates and disrupts genuine  negotiations.

It is rare for kidnap victims in México to be held for eight months; most are resolved through negotiation in a matter of a few months, providing the family retains a professional negotiator. 

Clearly, it is never good for a family member to deal directly with kidnappers, given the fact that they are emotionally involved and may jeopardize the safety of the victim because of such involvement.

It is tragic that the family in this case has been endeavoring for over eight months to secure the release of their son. Obtaining kidnap-ransom insurance would have been prudent for the family to have obtained years ago, although that option is no longer available.

The best advice I could render to the family would be to: (1) Terminate communication with the government; (2) retain an experienced negotiator; (3) Terminate contact with the media and (4) If contact with the kidnappers is still possible, determine why the son was not released following the $40,800 payment.

Nayarit, one of México's smallest states, depends heavily on natural resources and agriculture to support its economy. Cash crops include mangos, coffee, tobacco and sugar cane. Mining is also a significant industry, with large deposits of lead, copper, silver and gold. In recent years Nayarit has engaged in major tourist development, market itself as a  SAFE and beautiful destination served by Puerto Vallarta International Airport.