Germán García-Velutini, president of Vencred Casa de Bolsa and brother of Banco Venezolano de Credito’s President Oscar Garcia Mendoza, was kidnapped shortly after 4 p.m. on 26 February near his office in San Bernardino.
News reports about the abduction have been confused.
But it appears that the kidnappers numbered 8-10 men, of which 4-5 wore business suits and were armed with “armas largas” (assault rifles?).
The kidnappers apparently were in 2-3 vehicles, including a Mercedes Benz sedan used to block the narrow street and at least one SUV (camioneta) that blocked Garcia Velutni’s vehicle from the rear. The abductors also may have used a motorcycle in the operation.
The abduction happened in a narrow street of the Sarria barrio in San Bernardino which is used as a traffic shortcut daily by hundreds of drivers.
Garcia-Velutini reportedly was driving alone in an Audi and speaking on his cellular phone to a colleague at the exact moment that the kidnappers executed their ambush. Eyewitness reports indicate it was a professionally executed operation.
The main assault team consisted of at least four men with assault rifles who overpowered Garcia Velutini and drove off in the banker’s Audi, which as of this post reportedly has not been located yet.
This is unconfirmed, but two businessmen who know Garcia Velutini say he almost always used the same shortcut through Sarria when leaving his office. If this is correct, Garcia Velutini may have committed a cardinal error in terms of looking out for his own security.
Some local news media (2001) report the kidnappers are demanding a ransom of 5 million euros, but this also is unconfirmed. [Update: Garcia’s family released a statement saying the abductors have not contacted them yet.]
Hundreds of people are kidnapped every year in Bolivarian Venezuela, but this is the first high-level abduction in several years of a member of the traditional Caracas elite.
Based on the little information known so far, it appears that:
*The kidnappers clearly were familiarized with Garcia Velutini’s daily movements. He was abducted in an enclosed area on a narrow street where he had absolutely no chance to attempt any evasive maneuvers.
*If a motorcycle was involved, the kidnappers probably followed Garcia Velutini for some distance before the abduction occurred. The person (or persons) riding the motorcycle probably communicated by cell phone with the other kidnappers waiting in ambush.
*At least one SUV also was following Garcia Velutini’s Audi, carrying several of the abductors and blocking the rear of the banker’s vehicle to prevent him from backing away from the ambush.
Who might be the kidnappers?
The degree of professionalism reported by eyewitnesses suggests the kidnappers could be:
*Persons with an elite military or police (SWAT) background, in which case there may be links to current/former figures in the Bolivarian revolution.
*An organized crime gang (with foreign and Venezuelan members) which specializes in abductions of high net worth victims,
*Colombian paramilitaries, FARC/ELN guerrillas or professional kidnappers from the neighboring country who have moved their criminal business activities to Venezuela where civilian law enforcement and other state security entities are ineffective and easily corrupted.
God willing, Garcia Velutini will be not be harmed and will be freed very quickly.