Thursday, February 29, 2024

3 kidnapped hikers rescued near Toluca

Three women who were kidnapped while hiking in México state last Sunday have been rescued.

The women, one of whom is reportedly related to two former government ministers, were abducted by a criminal group while hiking in a mountainous area near the Otomí Ceremonial Center, located around 45 kilometers northeast of Toluca.

Agents with the National Anti-Kidnapping Coordination (Conase) and state police located the victims on Wednesday in a safe house some 20 kilometers from where they were kidnapped.

The women were on a bed with their feet chained together when they were found, according to a video posted to social media by journalist Carlos Jiménez.

“Relax, you’re safe now girls, everything’s going to be OK, we’re from the state police,” says one of the officers.

One of the women is reportedly the daughter of Heriberto Félix, social development minister for three years during the 2006-12 presidency of Felipe Calderón. She is also the niece of Tatiana Clouthier, economy minister in the current government between early 2021 and late 2022.

Two women dressed in heavy hooded sweatshirts embrace while sitting on a bed
Two of the kidnapped women embrace as police unchain them from a bed in the safe house where they were found. (Video screenshot)

México state authorities only identified the women by their first names: Lucía, Andrea and María José.

The kidnappers contacted the women’s families to demand a ransom, but no money was sent to them, according to reports. The criminals, who reportedly fled the safe house shortly before authorities arrived, remain at large.

According to various reports, the area where the women were abducted is controlled by a faction of the La Familia Michoacana crime group led by Johnny Hurtado Olascoaga and his brother José Alfredo Hurtado Olascoaga.

The brothers, known as “El Pez” (The Fish) and “El Fresa” (The Snob, or literally The Strawberry), were the subject of sanctions announced by the United States Department of the Treasury a year ago.

The two men have “engaged in, or attempted to engage in, activities or transactions that materially contributed to, or pose a significant risk of materially contributing to, the international proliferation of illicit drugs or their means of production,” the department said.

With reports from Sin Embargo, Reforma and Infobae 

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