Kidnappings escalate in Mexico

Jan. 5, 2009 at 2:37 PM
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FELIPE ANGELES, Mexico, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Witnesses say the kidnapping of Mexicans with relatives in the United States is causing people to flee towns in Zacatecas, Jalisco and Michoacan.

"The relatives of Mexicans in the United States have become a new profit center for Mexico's crime industry," said Rodolfo García Zamora, a professor at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas.

Zamora, who studies migration trends, said families in Mexico are emigrating to avoid kidnap and extortion while Mexicans in the United States are trying to avoid returning home, The New York Times reported Monday.

An example from among dozens of stories is the kidnapping of an 80-year-old farmer in Felipe Angeles in Zacatecas. Thugs beat him and kept him hostage in November until friends and relatives paid a $9,000 ransom, which included his life savings. The kidnappers knew his daughter lived in the United States and could wire money to Mexico, the Times reported.

"It's a toxic combination right now," said Denise Dresser, a political scientist based in Mexico City. "Mexicans north of the border are facing joblessness and persecution, but in their own country the government can't provide basic security for many of its citizens."

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