Kidnap for ransom payments made to pirates in Somalia are difficult to track due to the payments being made in cash, according to the BBC. An estimated $80 million in ransom payments are believed to have been laundered by organized crime syndicates in the Gulf region, but this has been denied by Gulf authorities.
The BBC also has a breakdown by the United Nations on how the ransom payments are distributed.
Although there is no universal set of rules, a UN report based on information gathered from pirates based in the north-eastern village of Eyl, reveals some interesting information about how the ransom spoils are divided:
• Maritime militia, pirates involved in actual hijacking – 30%
• Ground militia (armed groups who control the territory where the pirates are based) – 10%
• Local community (elders and local officials) – 10%
• Financier – 20%
• Sponsor – 30%
The UN report found the payments are shared virtually equally between the maritime militia, although the first pirate to board the ship gets a double share or a vehicle.
And compensation is paid to the family of any pirate killed during the operation.
437 people were officially kidnapped for ransom in 2008, down from 2,882 in 2002, according to the Colombian government.
According to official statistics, there has been 166 kidnapping for ransom in Venezuela in 2009. However, as many cases are not reported, the number of kidnappings are estimated to be up to four times higher.
Poor families are forced to give up possessions, such as refrigerator, in order to pay the ransom.
The Somali Pirates who hold ships for ransom off the coast of Somalia are reported to have made up to 50 million dollars last year in ransom payments. According to a report in the Washington Post, those pirates who are able to get paid are living a life of luxury in the poverty stricken country.
From the Washington Post:
Locals say that onshore, the pirates are attended to by prostitutes, nurses, bodyguards and men who procure and deliver their precious khat, a mildly narcotic leaf chewed for its stimulant effects.
Post, April 20,2009.
3,000 people were kidnapped and held hostage guerrillas fighting oil companies in Nigeria in 2008. Over 1,000 people were killed and over $20.7 Billion in oil revenue was lost due to the hostilities.
Between 2004 and 2007, the number of kidnappings in Mexico increased by 40 percent.
In 2007, security officials in the country stated that there were 430 officially reported kidnapping cases in the country.
Estimates by independent crime researchers say that as many as 7,000 people could have been kidnapped in the country in 2007.
A kidnap and ransom consultant estimated in 2010 that the kidnap and ransom industry generates $500 Million for criminal gangs each year.
In addition, The Foreign Policy Centre, a think-tank located in the Untied Kingdom, estimated in 2001 that “kidnappers globally take home well over $500 million each year – and rising.”
There were between 30 to 50 kidnappings each day in Mexico in 2008.
In 2006, insurance policies paid out $200 million in ransom payments.