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Wilson Ramos Kidnapping

November 11, 2011 by staff 

Wilson Ramos Kidnapping, In the modest, aqua-colored house where Wilson Ramos grew up, his close-knit family hunkered down on Thursday, grappling with his abduction as President Hugo Chavez’s government launched a high-profile investigation to bring home one of the country’s newest, brightest baseball talents.

Only hours before the kidnapping, the Washington Nationals’ 24-year-old catcher, fresh off his rookie season, had enjoyed an outing at the beach with relatives. Home for Venezuela’s winter league, Ramos planned to debut next Wednesday for the Aragua Tigers. The coming weeks meant reunions with old friends and Christmas holidays with his family.

But all that has, for now, been dashed after heavily armed men snatched Ramos from the patio in front of his home on Wednesday, as his father, a brother and cousin watched helplessly. The family, said Tamara Corredor, a friend of the family who has been accompanying them through the ordeal, is shattered.

“He grew up here, he felt calm here, and he felt safe,” she said, stepping outside of the family home. “His mother is now just crying, and then for a moment she calms down. They are very religious, evangelicals, very, very religious. .?.?. They are very united. They always look out for each other.”

Corredor, as well as Gustavo Marcano, an agent for the ballplayer who has known him five years, said that the family has yet to receive a demand for ransom. The family spent the day in their living room with investigators from Venezuela’s judicial police, as well as officials from other law enforcement agencies, they said.

“We are just waiting for that phone to ring,” Marcano said.

In a country with 895 officially registered kidnappings last year, 13 times the 67 abductions that took place a decade ago, kidnapping for ransom has become a big business, said Luis Cedeno, director of Active Peace, a think tank in the capital of Caracas that studies crime.

He said with a big target like Ramos, a ballplayer who earned $415,000 in 2011, the culprits are likely to be part of a criminal organization, rather than a fly-by-night team. If they do make contact with the family, Cedeno said, it will likely not be to demand a dead-drop location but rather to give instructions in the first stage of a complex operation in which money is deposited in foreign accounts.

“Ten to 20 million dollars in this case,” he said, “that is what I would expect.”

Friends of the Ramos family said that on Wednesday, Ramos had been enjoying the early evening with his father, Abraham, one of his brothers, David, and a cousin when two vehicles drove by their house and circled. The small, one-story house is located on a narrow street in a working-class neighborhood of small cinderblock homes that push up against a woodsy area.

Suddenly, one of the vehicles stopped and two men ran out, guns drawn and lunged toward Ramos, friends of the family said.

“They hauled him up by his neck, a gun to the head and that is how they took him away,” Corredor said.

People across the neighborhood, many of whom remember the skinny kid who loved playing baseball at the sports complex down the road, ran out of their homes and into the narrow streets. Some stood around quietly. Others tried to reassure Ramos’s mother, Malena Campo. Still others, like Maia Rosa de Padron, simply cried.

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