Hot Growth Industry: Kidnapping - Pacific Standard

Hot Growth Industry: Kidnapping

Killings are down in Mexico—but kidnapping is way up.
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(PHOTO: IMFOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK)

(PHOTO: IMFOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK)

If you could buy shares in kidnapping cartels (and had subzero moral scruples about how you make your money—but isn't that standard in the financial world?), this would be a great time to invest.

In Mexico, long beleaguered by a vicious drug war, the good news is that killing is down; the bad news is that kidnapping is way, way up. As The Economist reports, according to official police statistics, murders have dropped 18 percent in the first eight months of this year. But during the same period, kidnappings have jumped by 35 percent.

The Mexican charity Security, Justice and Peace calls Mexico the worst place in the world for kidnapping.

And that's just the police stats, which seem to massively undercount the problem. INEGI, the national statistics institute, estimates there were 105,682 kidnappings last year—only 1,317 of which were reported to the police. As Quartz points out, that means 99 percent of kidnap victims didn't bother to report it—largely because the police have such a pathetic track record in solving such crimes. The Economist adds that the Mexican charity Security, Justice and Peace calls Mexico the worst place in the world for kidnapping.

That Mexico is the world's kidnap capital certainly sounds plausible. I mean, just in the last few weeks authorities found no fewer than 73 kidnap victims kept in a single house, the entire Spanish rock band Delorean was briefly kidnapped, and 13 cops were arrested on charges of being part of a kidnapping ring.

But things are even worse in Nigeria, according to London-based security firm NYA International. In the first half of this year, The Economist quotes them as saying, "Nigeria had the most kidnap attempts in the world, accounting for 26 percent of all such recorded incidents. Mexico was second with 10 percent, and Pakistan third with 7 percent." Among the hostages currently being held there are an archbishop and two American oil ship crew members, who were seized just today.

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