Kidnapping is a crime specialty with low start-up costs, and is therefore attractive to young criminal fellows anxious to get going without a large initial investment. A van, a gun and some duct tape can get an aspirational Mexican started as a professional kidnapper. Mexican crooks may think that the bright lights and big money of the USA will provide handsome ransoms. However, they should remember that America takes kidnapping very seriously when it's time for punishment to be meted out.
Houston is the latest American city to experience the diversity of Mexico-style kidnapping for ransom.
Houston police announced Wednesday the discovery of a kidnapping and robbery operation in which unsuspecting people were snatched and held hostage until their relatives paid ransoms of a few thousand dollars.
While the actions of the ring mirror random kidnappings that have plagued Mexico and other Latin American nations for years, police said they have no evidence to suggest the Houston ring is connected to organized-crime groups in other countries. But experts familiar with so called "express kidnappings" taking place just south of the border said the Texas operation appears similar. [Kidnapping ring similar to scams south of border, Houston Chronicle 7/26/07]
In other crime news, Mexican marijuana growers have infested public lands near Chicago to avoid the troublesome crossings over the border.
Just yards from busy roads, the planting and pruning took place in 11 separate fields dotting the 1,650-acre preserve. If the crop were harvested next month, sneaked onto trucks and sold locally or abroad, the drug runners could have raked in up to $10 million, authorities estimate. [Pot plantation discovered in forest preserve Daily Herald 7/25/07]
There have been reports for several years of Mexican organized crime moving into national parks and other protected natural areas, like Point Reyes, to grow pot and generally trash the place. The biggest hauls have been made in California, but interior states like Alabama and Kentucky have also been hit with invasive marijuana-growing pests.
One report puts clean-up costs to restore the land at $11,000 per acre.