Two off-duty female Mexican soldiers were abducted at gunpoint Thursday and held captive for more than 12 hours by suspected drug cartel members — as a part of a frightening revenge plot, the Mexican army said.
The commander of the army headquarters in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta said the two servicewomen were vacationing there when they were snatched just after midnight.
“They were kidnapped for the simple reason that they belonged to the army,” Gen. Vicente Pérez López said. “They had nothing to do with any operational issues.”
Mexican federal officials said the soldiers were likely abducted as payback for the arrest and killing of a high-ranking cartel member last week.
The army said in a statement that the captives were freed after about 15 hours. The statement did not say how the release took place.
The Spanish-language news outlet Univision reported that the kidnapping victims were found alive inside a vehicle parked at a shopping center. Both appeared to have been beaten, according to the reporting.
The soldiers were taken to the Naval Regional Hospital to be treated for their injuries.
The two had rented a property in the popular resort town of Puerto Vallarta and “were enjoying the beach … on vacation,” Pérez López said, slamming the abduction as “a cowardly act.”
He said the kidnappers were believed to be members of a cartel “because of the way in which they operated.”
Neighbors reported the kidnapping to the police at around 2:30 a.m., but the first officers arrived at the scene only 50 minutes later, according to a report in the newspaper Milenio.
He said a search for the soldiers was launched by Mexico’s army, navy and National Guard and included the use of helicopters.
Pérez López identified the two as a sergeant who was posted as an office worker and a second lieutenant who teaches at an army school.
The army employs very few civilians or outside contractors, and it staffs most services — from hospitals and schools to weapons factories — with its own personnel.
Puerto Vallarta is dominated by the ultra-violent Jalisco drug gang, which has often openly clashed with the military. The cartel, which, according to the US State Department, has the highest cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine trafficking capacity, is allegedly led by Juan Carlos Valencia González.
The US government is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to Gonzalez’s arrest on federal drug-trafficking charges.
The Attorney General’s Office suggested that Gonzalez had ordered the soldiers’ kidnapping in retaliation for the April 22 operation to arrest Saúl Alejandro Rincón Godoy, a suspected Jalisco cartel lieutenant dubbed “El Chopa,” who was linked to the murder of the former Governor of Jalisco Aristóteles Sandoval.
Godoy was killed during an armed confrontation with the Mexican military and the National Guard.
With Post Wires