JUAN CANO / IRENE QUIRANTE
Tuesday, 7 February 2023, 18:55
On the afternoon of 20 January, two men appeared at the National Police headquarters in Malaga to report that some friends were being held against their will. The pair explained that they had received "disturbing" messages through WhatsApp in which a demand of 50,000 euros was made as a ransom for the safe release of their friends.
A vast police operation was launched, led by officers from the Udyco-Costa del Sol drugs and organised crime unit. Although at the time the motive for the kidnapping was unknown, there was a suggestion that it could be related to drug trafficking, according to sources close to the police investigation.
Officers did have one solid clue to go on, though; they knew where the car the kidnappers were using was located. As the vehicle was put under surveillance, it eventually led them to a house under construction in the Carlinda neighbourhood of the city.
The police operation took place in the early morning. The National Police force deployed all available resources - searching the area by land and air. While the teams searched on the ground, a helicopter combed the northeast area of Malaga. It only took a few hours for then to locate - and safely release - the victims.
Police found the captives in good health. The two young men were being held inside a 'zulo' - a kind of cistern - with a small access inside the building under construction.
The suspected kidnappers, two men aged 35 and 43, both Spanish, were arrested for the alleged crimes of kidnapping and robbery with violence.
Although the investigation remains open, police officers working on the case are convinced that the background to the double kidnapping is related to drug trafficking.
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