(RepublicanJournal.org) – A British millionaire is safe after a harrowing ordeal with suspected cartel members. Fifteen individuals disguised as police officers rampaged the victim’s home in Ecuador, allegedly kidnapping him and his girlfriend, and then attempted to hold the man for ransom. Investigators were able to track him down after the kidnappers reportedly put the girlfriend in a bomb vest and sent her back out to make their demands.
The New York Post reports that Colin Armstrong was taken from his property, Rancho Rodeo Grande, along with his girlfriend, Katherine Paola Santos, on December 16. Up to 15 kidnappers, all wearing masks and police uniforms, forced the 78-year-old millionaire and his young partner into his black BMW. Police tracked the car as it headed south, but they lost the signal and later found the vehicle abandoned on a roadside.
Roughly 24 hours later, Santos showed up at the home of one of Armstrong’s sons in a taxi. She reportedly relayed ransom demands from the kidnappers while wearing a bomb vest, which officials safely removed from her person. Investigators suspect the girlfriend may have been involved, according to Daily Mail, which adds that officers questioned the woman extensively over the details of her release.
Police searched 30 houses in their effort to locate Armstrong in an operation dubbed “Libertad 122.” They eventually found him — along with a small arsenal of weapons and ammo, police vests, and 2 kilos of a substance police had yet to identify.
Investigators suspect Armstrong became a cartel target when he refused to submit to demands for “protection money.” They believe that the notorious Los Tiguerones group, which may have connections to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (JNGC), is responsible for the kidnapping, but the investigation is still ongoing.
JNGC, known for its brutality, reportedly began forcing its new recruits to consume the hearts of their enemies last year. Cartels have increasingly grown in power in Ecuador, controlling even the prisons. The country’s national murder rate has increased fourfold since 2018.
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