'Kidnap king' of Mexico is arrested

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The Independent US

Mexican police have snared the notorious ringleader of a kidnapping gang before he could abduct his twelfth victim and lop off a little finger from the left hand to accompany the usual ransom note.

By sending out two digits wrapped in a snapshot, Marcos Tinoco - also known as the Colonel - had intimidated Mexico City's wealthy Jewish jewellers and businessmen for the past 15 months, collecting more than 30 million pesos (over £2m) in ransom. Few families had brought in the police, preferring to buy the hostage's freedom quietly. All but one of the kidnap victims was Jewish.

Working with the widow of a jeweller, Mr Tinoco, 41, easily penetrated the enclaves of the rich. Police were able to trace the kidnap king - who also operated under the aliases Renato Reta and Carlos Farell - after he attempted to hide a hostage in the same residence that another of his victims had managed to flee from.

Mr Tinoco was holding a 9mm Beretta pistol, a diamond-studded gold Rolex watch, and more than £5,500 in cash when police arrested him on Monday in the shopping district of the city. A search of his hotel room later uncovered false moustaches, bogus letterheads from the Interior Ministry, handcuffs, fake drivers' licenses, radio transmitters, and weapons.

"I am a big thug. I kidnap," he sneered on a videotape that police recorded after his capture. "You call it organised crime, no?" Commander Alberto Pliego, the head of Mexico's anti-kidnapping unit, was ebullient after Mr Tinoco's arrest. "Now we are going after more," he told reporters.