Thursday, December 26, 2013

Brazil: Abduction of Lottery Winners a Frequent Occurrence, Kidnap Victims Rescued

According to The Latin American Tribune, a lottery winner and his brother were rescued Tuesday (December 24) from kidnappers who had abducted them in a suburb of São Paulo after kidnapping the siblings on Monday (December 23) and demanded 500,000 reais (US$217,390) for their release.
 
Police identified the abductors as Saulo Moraes de Araujo, a 25-year-old vendor with previous arrests for robbery and homicide, and Felipe Torres, 23.

One of the siblings, a construction worker, won Brazil’s Mega Sena lottery in September 2013, netting 7.8 million reais ($3.4 million).

COMMENT: De Araujo and Torres were part of a gang that specializes in what are known as "express kidnappings," which normally involves abducting a victim and forcing him or her to turn over cash before releasing the captive after a matter of hours.

Police were already tapping the gang members’ phones as part of an ongoing investigation and agents were able to track down the kidnapped brothers within hours of their abduction.

The captors opened fire when they saw police closing in and De Araujo was killed in the ensuing gunfight.

Officers took Torres into custody and confiscated two handguns and a kilo of cocaine.

"Express kidnappings," which typically also include abduction from street-installed ATMs, which is why I appeal to all travelers to NOT use ATMs on the street, but rather use ATMs located in financial institutions where armed guards can normally be observed.

Note: "Express kidnappings" rose 62.5% in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro state. Most major Brazilian cities report similar increases.