This U.S. City Has One Kidnapping a Day
It's a shocking fact: Phoenix, the fifth-largest U.S. city, has, on average, one kidnapping every day. And those are just the kidnappings the police know about. They think there are many more that go unreported. What is going on in Phoenix?
America's Most Wanted calls Phoenix, "Ground Zero for the nation's kidnappers." Criminals are kidnapping other criminals and torturing them while holding out for ransom money that typically ranges from $30,000 to $1 million. The victims are hardcore drug dealers, smugglers and leaders of coyote organizations who are being kidnapped and extorted for money by their underworld rivals. Most of the suspects and victims have ties to Mexico. And it's happening at the rate of about one day. Phoenix cops are investigating 368 kidnappings in 2008 and 357 in 2007. Although dozens of arrests have been made, there were 101 reported kidnappings as of March 31, 2009. If this trend continues, Phoenix will have a record increase in kidnappings--for the fourth consecutive year. What is worse is police suspect the reported kidnappings represent about one-third or less of the real number. Since the victims tend to be smugglers, drug dealers or illegal immigrants, they don't want to call the police.
Victims are mercilessly tortured until the ransom money is received. They are cut, beaten, burned, pistol-whipped, shot, sodomized with sharp objects and electrocuted, as well as deprived of food and water. In Mexico, kidnapping victims are usually killed, often by beheading, but in Phoenix only two have died from the torture. "It gets close sometimes," Lt. Lauri Burgett, who heads the Home Invasion and Kidnapping Enforcement squad, told CNN about how far the torture can go toward death. "It's all about the money. And there's so much money to be made in this that you can't stop it, but you can try to reveal it, and then you can try to do something about it," Burgett explained to CNN.
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