Thursday, June 20, 2024

Kidnapped Russian woman rescued in Tamaulipas

A 23-year-old Russian woman who was kidnapped in northern Mexico last Thursday has been rescued, authorities in the state of Tamaulipas said Sunday.

Maria Rigovich, a tourist, was abducted while traveling from Monterrey, Nuevo León, to Reynosa, Tamaulipas, with “Mexican acquaintances,” according to the Russian Embassy in Mexico.

Tamaulipas security authorities said on social media on Sunday that Rigovich was rescued on Saturday night.

“As a result of the coordinated work of the Specialized Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the Tamaulipas Attorney General’s Office, the female Russian citizen was rescued at approximately 23:00 on March 16,” said the office of the spokesperson for the state Security Ministry.

The social media post said that Rigovich was in good health and that authorities were carrying out the “corresponding formalities.”

No arrests were reported, and it was unclear where the woman was held during the period between her abduction and rescue.

Tamaulipas state security troopers and their vehicles
Tamaulipas authorities said Rigovich was rescued before her husband was able to pay the requested ransom. (Tamaulipas Public Security Ministry/Facebook)

In a post to the X social media platform on Sunday, the Russian Embassy said that Rigovich had been “released” by authorities.

“According to the information available at this time, the abducted Russian woman is now at a police station in Reynosa. She was released without paying the kidnappers the ransom requested,” the embassy said.

“The Embassy thanks the police, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico and other services for their collaboration in the release of the Russian citizen.”

According to a report by Russian media outlet Pravda, Rigovich published a message to her Telegram channel shortly before she was kidnapped.

“The cartel is chasing us. Pray. I’m writing this down in case I die. I love you very much, you are just wonderful. Most likely, we will be killed,” the Muscovite wrote.

She was reportedly traveling with a Mexican woman identified as Brenda, her nine-year-old son and Brenda’s father. Rigovich had been staying with the family in Monterrey prior to her abduction.

The three Mexicans and Rigovich were all forced out of the vehicle at gunpoint but the Russian was the only one who was kidnapped, according to Brenda’s version of events as reported by Pravda.

“What saved us what that there was a child in the car, my 9-year-old son got scared and started crying. One of the criminals said, ‘I also have two children, we’ll let you go, but she has to stay,'” Brenda said.

She said that the criminals asked Rigovich to pay a fee for passing through “their land,” but she didn’t have much money with her.

“Then they took her and our car,” Brenda said. The family’s car was later found by authorities.

After she was kidnapped, Rigovich contacted her husband, Alexey, and asked him to make a US $1,500 deposit to a bank account, according to Pravda.

Alexey reportedly told Russian media that he planned to pay the ransom, but the embassy indicated that he did not.

The same stretch of highway was the site of the kidnapping — and subsequent rescue — of 31 migrants in late December.

The newspaper El Universal reported Monday that just over 4,000 foreigners disappeared in Mexico between Jan. 1, 2019 and March 17, 2024 and remain missing.

Interior Ministry data published by El Universal shows that the nationality of 2,322 of the missing foreigners is unknown. The five foreign countries with the highest number of missing citizens in Mexico are Honduras, the United States, Guatemala, Colombia and Venezuela.

With reports from La Jornada, SDP Noticias, Reforma, Publimetro and Infobae  

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