How a father found and freed his daughter using mobile phone tracking
In Mexico, kidnapping is not an unusual occurrence. Now family members of kidnapping victims are using new techniques to locate their loved ones. After eleven days, a father succeeded in tracking his kidnapped daughter – using mobile phone tracking instead of the help of the authorities and detectives. Read More
14-year-old Mariel Pamela was kidnapped in Ecatepec, Mexico while she was out shopping for school supplies with her mother and sister. She vanished without a trace, and could not be reached on her mobile either. But her father succeeded in locating her with the help of mobile tracking. More and more Mexicans are resorting to digital self-help when friends or family simply disappear, since they often cannot rely on the assistance of the state and police.
More than 20,000 people have disappeared in Mexico in recent years. Mexico is a country with one of the highest kidnapping risks. Some victims are freed when a ransom is paid, others are never seen again. Thousands of young women like Mariel Pamela have been forced into prostitution after being kidnapped in Mexico in recent years – or raped and then murdered.
Police complicit in crime
According to the Mexican Secretariat of the Interior, SEGOB, kidnappings went up by twenty percent in 2013 compared to the year before. The number of victims was highest in the states of Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Michoacán, Estado de Mexico and Morelos. The number of unreported cases is even higher: In 2012 a study found 105,682 kidnappings had taken place in contrast to the 1.317 reported to the police. Mexicans have very little trust in their police forces, which often drag investigations out. Security forces and police also often collude, at least in part, with criminals, or even disappear people themselves. The police and military were also involved in the disappearance of 43 students in Iguala three months ago, an event that set off mass protests.
Left on their own
The father of kidnapped Mariel Pamela repeatedly appealed to the police for help, even telling officers where his daughter was being held after he used mobile tracking to identify her location. But they sent him away again to try to find his daughter on his own without the assistance of security forces – although his daughter could have been in the hands of a troop of heavily armed human traffickers or a cartel. When police and investigators continued to put him off, he drove to the house alone and succeeded in freeing his daughter.
“The only thing the authorities did was harass my wife and daughter”, the father reported on the Mexican website A Fondo Estado de México. They did not even activate an “Amber alert” for days, although his daughter was only 14. The emergency system is designed to spread the news about a missing child quickly and widely over different channels and media, and its use in the very first hours following a kidnapping is decisive for success. The authorities presented just one suspect after the fact – then let him go again just a few hours later.