Magazine article Risk Management

The Global Kidnapping Epidemic

Magazine article Risk Management

The Global Kidnapping Epidemic

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

There's no getting around it: traveling employees and expatriates, especially top-level executives, are in danger of being abducted in many emerging comers of the world. In some locations, kidnapping can have violent--even fatal--consequencas, particularly with the rise in the number of individuals traveling throughout Asia, South and Central America, the Middle East and Africa. The number of U.S. citizens traveling to these more volatile areas of the world grew a whopping 47% from 2000 to 2009--reaching 12 million a year, according to the U.S. Commerce Department's International Trade Administration.

There are an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 kidnappings, detentions and extortions that take place each year globally, according to NYA International, a London-based kidnap and extortion response consultancy. In reality, the number is probably significantly higher, as it is estimated that only about 35% of all kidnappings worldwide are reported to the authorities, with about half of these taking place in Latin America.

Mexico, for example, has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world, with more than 1,200 incidents reported each year, a number that includes both foreigners and locals. With the crackdown on the drug cartels in Latin America, these career criminals have turned to organized kidnappings as a way to make money. Unfortunately, these particular abductions can sometimes end in death for the victims, as these former drug kingpins are accustomed to murder as a way of life. Caracas, Venezuela, another example, has become one of the most dangerous cities in Latin America. It has seen a large increase in abductions by skilled professionals who make more affordable ransom demands-enabling them to stay under the radar, according to Clayton Consultants, a crisis management security consultancy.

In the Middle East and Asia, countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Indonesia, India and Thailand are abduction hot spots, either for political reasons or more often for ransom. In Africa, close to 1,000 abductions were reported in Nigeria alone in 2009.

In Eastern Europe, Russia remains a dangerous place for business travel, with foreigners targeted by the country's gangster syndicates. Executives have been lured to Moscow or St. Petersburg under the guise business deals only to find themselves abducted.

The map above shows the estimated number of foreigners taken captive each month, according to AKE's quarterly kidnap and ransom report. …

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