Venezuela kidnappers are now demanding ransom payments in U.S. dollars rather than the local currency, according to a new report, revealing how even criminal groups are not immune to the country’s deepening economic crisis.
The tumbling value of Venezuela’s national currency, the bolivar, has compelled kidnap groups to change their modus operandi, reported Sumarium. Relatives and associates of kidnap victims told Sumarium their captors had demanded between $7,000 and $10,000 in ransom.
“They grabbed my wife … when they called me the first thing they demanded of me was dollars,” one individual said.
An unidentified police official explained kidnappers only start demanding bolivars after the ransom sum passes the $10,000 threshold.
“The family members of the captives collect their savings in dollars or euros when the ransom does not surpass $10,000,” the official said. “When they ask for more, the kidnappers agree to negotiate in bolivars.”
Kidnappers are not the only criminal networks ditching the bolivar in favor of U.S. or European currency. Sumarium noted a recent media report by La Vanguardia in which an inmate states that he pays bribes to military officials in euros in order to obtain weapons inside the prison facility.
Criminal bosses in Caracas have also reportedly offered to pay their henchmen up to $1,000 for every intelligence officer they kill.
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