Ex-footballer 'worked for kidnappers'


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The Independent US

The former Mexican international goalkeeper Omar Ortiz has been arrested on suspicion of working for a gang of kidnappers.

Ortiz himself disappeared last week, and the Mexican media was awash with speculation that he had been kidnapped. But in fact the 35-year-old was admitting to police that he had helped pick out two rich victims for the kidnappers, according to Jorge Domene, a spokesman for the northern state of Nuevo Leon.

The gang, who said they belonged to a drug cartel, sought an average of one million pesos (£47,000) per victim, of which Ortiz received a cut of more than 100,000 pesos, Mr Domene said.

Ortiz looked impassive as masked soldiers paraded him and three other suspects in the state capital Monterrey, a city that has increasingly come under attack by organised crime.

Mr Domene said the gang selected victims at social gatherings, who were then snatched and ransomed.

Nuevo Leon's attorney general, Adrian de la Garza, said the gang's leader, who is still at large, had told the arrested men they were working for the Gulf drugs cartel.

George Grayson, a Mexico expert at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, said after news of Ortiz's arrest: "I'm speechless. I suppose it's an indication of the possible ubiquity of organised crime."

The conservative government of President Felipe Calderon has staked its reputation on rooting out Mexico's drug gangs.