Three Arrested for Kidnapping Tourists in Bolivia
April 3, 2009 - Latin American Herald Tribune

LA PAZ -- Bolivian police arrested two men and a woman who allegedly kidnapped two Swiss tourists, whose families paid a ransom of $30,000 for their safe release, a law enforcement official told Efe on Thursday.

The arrests came on Tuesday and in the next few hours the suspects will appear before a judge, who will rule on where they will be held pending trial, the official said.

The trio are members of a band that carried out "express kidnappings" of tourists visiting the Andean region of Bolivia, where in 2006 an Austrian couple and a Spaniard were murdered by a similar gang allegedly linked to the police.

Police said the arrested kidnappers speak several languages, among them English, French and German, whereby it was easy for them to establish a relationship with the potential victims.

The trio kidnapped the two Swiss tourists on March 19 in a La Paz neighborhood as they arrived back from a trip to Copacabana near the border with Peru.

The kidnappers demanded from their victims' relatives a ransom of $30,000, which was deposited in a La Paz bank, and two days later they withdrew almost all the money.

The tourists were freed on March 22 and reported the crime to the police, despite the death threats the criminals had made against them if they went to the authorities.

Police said that the kidnappers were captured after being identified on security videos at the bank when they went there to withdraw the ransom money. EFE