An American renowned as an anti-kidnap expert has himself been abducted in northern Mexico after several days of seminars in which he was teaching police and citizens how to deal with kidnappings.
Felix Batista, 55, is a senior consultant with ASI Global, a Houston-based firm that assists clients with security issues, including both preventing and resolving kidnappings. He was taken Wednesday evening outside a restaurant in the industrial city of Saltillo in the state of Coahuila, which borders Texas.
A former U.S. Army intelligence officer, Batista has worked for nearly two decades as a security consultant in Latin America from his base in Miami. He has become a frequent source for journalists writing about security issues in the region and has often lectured industry and citizens groups in the United States and Mexico.
Charlie LeBlanc, ASI Global’s president, told the Houston Chronicle that Batista was “not there on ASI business.”
Local press in Saltillo reported that Batista had given security seminars to local police and citizens groups last week.
Batista, in a bio for a recent conference, said he had successfully negotiated the release of nearly 100 kidnap victims, including with Colombian leftist guerillas and some of Mexico’s more notorious kidnapping gangs.
LeBlanc declined to comment whether the company or anyone else had received ransom demands from the kidnappers. The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City also declined to comment on the case.
Although often overshadowed by narcotics-related violence, kidnapping has become a scourge in Mexico.
Kidnappings have hit upper and middle-class civilians hard. Even poor families have been targeted. Hundreds of new cases are reported each year, with still more going unreported for fear of endangering the victims.
Just last summer, the 14-year-old son of one of the Mexican capital’s wealthiest merchant families was kidnapped and slain. And police last week identified the remains of the 19-year-old daughter of Mexico’s former top sports official Nelson Vargas. She had been kidnapped on her way to school in Mexico City 15 months ago.