A $1-million ransom was demanded for the safe return of a French-American woman kidnapped in the city of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, allegedly by a former Chilean terrorist, according to evidence gathered by police.
Authorities believe she was abducted by a gang led by Raúl Julio Escobar Poblete, who police arrested on May 30 in relation to the crime.
The 70-year-old woman, named by Mexican media as Nancy Michelle, was held captive for 79 days before being freed by police after Escobar’s arrest.
The police file, seen by the newspaper Reforma, lists the contents of the package that Escobar Poblete paid a taxi driver 500 pesos to deliver to the victim’s husband at the Nirvana Hotel.
It included four documents — two written in Spanish, one in French and one with images of the victim as well as a USB flash drive, a blue box and a small jar which contained the woman’s severed little finger.
The first document, addressed to Michelle’s husband, makes a blunt threat.
“Let’s make things clear. If you don’t pay, Nancy dies with the same certainty as when we said that if we didn’t reach an agreement, we would cut her finger off.”
A frank demand closes the letter.
“At this time we are going to carry out part of the warning that we made in the previous letter. We’re going to make this stage of the negotiation public [by] sending this letter to [members of] her social environment. The reply with the payment of $1 million so that Nancy doesn’t suffer the second harmful [act] must be made by Thursday, June 1 before 11am.”
The file also contains details about the events surrounding Escobar’s arrest and says that Interpol discovered his true identity after his fingerprints had been added to the database Plataforma México.
The abduction racket he led kidnapped at least eight people over a number of years including a politician, the daughter-in-law of ex-president Vicente Fox and the owner of fast food chain, Pollo Feliz.
Most of the victims frequented the Ventanas golf club in San Miguel, according to the report by Reforma. The gang didn’t use telephones to communicate with victims’ families, but newspaper ads, letters or messages delivered by taxi.
More than one kidnap victim was given a book to read: Man’s Search for Meaning by Auschwitz concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl. Victims were held on average for seven to eight months; one was kept for 13.
Some spent Christmas in captivity and their captors offered them bacalao a la vizcaina and other Spanish dishes.
It has been reported that state authorities declined assistance from the Federal Police in the matter and stated they were being advised by the FBI.
The Guanajuato state Attorney General’s office has since released facial composites of other alleged members of the kidnapping ring.
A 45-year-old Spanish woman believed to be Escobar’s partner, a 54-year-old Argentine woman, a 49-year-old Mexican man and two other individuals of unknown nationality are all suspected of being involved with the criminal group and until recently all lived in San Miguel de Allende.
Marcela Mardones, Escobar’s former partner and the mother of his children, is also suspected of being involved in the organization.
She fled to Chile after his arrest where she was also taken into custody as an alleged accomplice to Escobar in the murder of Chilean senator Jaime Guzmán in 1991.
She will go before a judge in Chile next week.
Source: Reforma (sp)