MEXICO CITY, Mexico—Mexico has overtaken Colombia and Brazil to become the world leader in reported kidnappings, a leading, private anti-crime group said Wednesday.
Investigators across the country reported 194 kidnappings from January through June, compared to 172 abductions registered during the same period by Colombian Defense Secretary officials and 169 reported kidnappings in Brazil, according to Jose Antonio Ortega, president of the Citizen Council for Public Safety.
“This is nothing to be proud of, it’s an embarrassment,” Ortega said at a news conference. “It’s an embarrassment for authorities who have tried to convince us crime statistics are falling.”
The vast majority of kidnappings in Mexico go unreported because of fears about police corruption and incompetence, and the possible involvement of authorities in many abductions. Often, family members of kidnapping victims fail to ask even presumably more-trustworthy federal authorities to investigate because of worries their loved ones could be killed during botched rescue attempts.
Ortega said that instead of working to put kidnappers behind bars and weed out the corrupt police officers and officials who protect them, Mexican officials preferred to point to incomplete statistics and insist that the crime rate has gone down.
“Things are very grave,” he said. “The country is breaking down and there’s no one in charge.”