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Police in Bolivia rescue two Spanish children held in extortion attempt

Mother arrested in Spain on drug-trafficking charges

One of the men arrested in connection with the kidnappings in Bolivia.
One of the men arrested in connection with the kidnappings in Bolivia.EFE

One of two Spanish children who were allegedly being held by drug traffickers in Bolivia as part of an extortion attempt is scheduled to return home to Murcia on Thursday.

Bolivian police, working with Spanish authorities, on Monday rescued the two children – a three-month old baby and his 11-year-old brother – after they had been taken from a family in Santa Cruz in the days following their mother’s arrest on drug trafficking charges, according to a statement issued on Tuesday by the Bolivian government.

At least four people have been detained in Bolivia in connection with the case.

The mother, a native of Yecla, Murcia province, was arrested in Spain after she was charged with trying to smuggle and sell a kilo of cocaine. The kidnappers, alleged drug traffickers, held the children as a guarantee that they would be get full payment for the drugs that had been sent to Spain, authorities said.

“It is not a typical kidnapping case, but an extortion attempt,” the Bolivian interior ministry said in its statement.

The woman, who was arrested on March 16 in Yecla, explained to police that she had to pay back money she allegedly took from the sale of the drugs so that her children could be released. Her partner was one of the captors.

The traffickers believed that the mother kept the drug money and decided to take her children

A special squad of the Spanish National Police that deals with kidnappings and extortion traveled to Bolivia to help in the investigation. The children had been held for about a week, according to police sources. Quoting law enforcement officials in Murcia, the Efe news agency reported that the 11-year-old will arrive in Spain with the officers but that his baby brother will remain with social services in Bolivia because he doesn’t have a Spanish passport.

According to the mother, who is currently in jail in Spain, the drug traffickers tricked her into smuggling the cocaine, but she said that she sold the drugs anyway and was planning on returning to South America before she was caught by the authorities. Police found her in possession of 35 milligrams of cocaine and €16,000.

The traffickers believed that she had kept the money and took her children as a guarantee that she would pay back what she owed, police sources explained. The boys had been staying with a family friend when they were taken.

The father of the 11-year-old, an Ecuadorian national who lives in Spain, said he received dozens of phone calls from Bolivia demanding that the money be paid back.

According to Bolivian police sources, the four arrested were identified as Toni Dorado Chaves, 31, Zulema Fuentes Siles, 36, Carlos Fernando Durán Dorado, 35, and Fernando Dorado Palacios, 37.

Earlier this month, Bolivian and Spanish police rescued a nine-year-old Moroccan girl from Catalonia who had been held for month in the jungle by her alleged kidnapper, who had planned on marrying her. The two cases are unrelated.