The Chilean leader of a kidnapping ring that operated in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, for 10 years has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Raúl Julio Escobar Poblete received the hefty sentence on Friday for the 2017 abduction of French-American woman Nancy Michelle Kendall who was freed after spending 78 days in captivity.
The criminal gang he headed is also believed to have carried out several other kidnappings in San Miguel, including abductions of 1994 presidential candidate Diego Fernández de Cevallos; Mónica Jurado, the former daughter-in-law of ex-president Vicente Fox; and the owner of the fast food chain, Pollo Feliz.
Escobar, allegedly a former guerilla fighter from Chile who is accused of assassinating a senator in that country in 1991, was arrested on May 30, 2017, as he followed a taxi driver he had paid to deliver a package to Kendall’s husband that included instructions for the payment of a US $1-million ransom and a finger that had been severed from his wife’s hand.
After Friday’s sentence was handed down, Guanajuato Attorney General Carlos Zamarripa Aguirre said that attempts are being made to bring to justice those who collaborated in the kidnapping ring with Escobar, who used various aliases and was known in Chile as Comandante Emilio.
Among the suspected accomplices are Escobar’s ex-wife, Marcela Mardones, who was arrested in Chile after fleeing Mexico in the wake of her ex-husband’s arrest, and Isabel Mazarro Gómez de Santiago, a more recent partner of the convicted kidnapper who was detained in Spain in 2017.
Another person allegedly involved in the kidnapping ring’s activities is believed to be in France.
“We are certain that they participated in several kidnappings committed in San Miguel de Allende in the past decade. . . ” Zamarripa said.
The attorney general described part of the modus operandi of the gang. Its members used stolen cars during abductions, and always wore gloves to ensure they didn’t leave fingerprints and hoods to conceal their identities.
The gang very rarely used telephones as a means to negotiate with victim’s families, preferring instead to take out advertisements in newspapers or deliver messages by mail or taxi.
Victims were held hostage for periods of up to a year and a half and large ransoms were usually sought in dollars, Zamarripa said.
The kidnapping ring allegedly kept some victims captive in coffins and employed other unusual techniques such as playing loud music with revolutionary themes, serving hostages bacalao a la vizcaina (a codfish dish) at Christmas and providing them with the book Man’s Search for Meaning by concentration camp survivor Viktor Frankl.
Source: El Universal (sp)