RealNews

Kidnappings a New Source of Money in the Caribbean

Criminal gangs in the Caribbean that are used to making profits from drug trafficking and other illicit activities have added a new moneymaking venture: kidnappings. The Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Guyana are among the Caribbean nations that are seeing an increase in kidnapping-for-ransom cases. The spike has become evident over the past couple of years with the abductions of prominent business people and members of wealthy families taken off the streets at gunpoint and held hostage until steep fees, some more than $1 million, are paid. This is a new form of crime in the crime wave that began to sweep the Caribbean last year, said Anthony Maingot, a professor of sociology at Florida International University and a Caribbean expert. Many of the transactions are being handled by private U.S. hostage negotiators — an indication, analysts say, that the public does not trust authorities to handle the cases in their own countries. “Everywhere in the Caribbean, there is a suspicion that police are involved in crime in general and at least in some kidnappings,” Maingot said. While the kidnappings are far from the level seen in other countries, such as Colombia, they are happening frequently enough to be characterized as a new phenomenon. The presumed culprits are criminal enterprises that have been operating out of the region for years. Full Story

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