Kidnap and Ransom

News, information and statistics about kidnap for ransom activities. Data about the security threat is collected from intelligence reports, security companies, kidnap for ransom insurance brokers, hostage negotiators and other public information.

In 2011, up to 2,000 people were working as kidnap and ransom pirates in Somalia.

Source: Frank Langfitt, “Inside The Pirate Business: From Booty To Bonuses,” NPR, April 15, 2011.

Since violence began in 2006 between government security agencies and drug trafficking cartels in Mexico, 5,397 people were reported to have been missing at the beginning of 2011.

3,457 men and 1,885 women, with 55 unknown cases, were reported to the government.

Included in the totals are cases involving kidnapping for ransom, as well as individuals detained by federal security forces.

Source: “Mexico: Thousands missing in drugs war says CNDH,” BBC News, April 2, 2011.

In 2011, the average ransom payments to pirates was reported to be between $2 Million to $5 Million.

The ransom is paid in cash and usually airdropped onto the ship after an average of 6 months of negotiation.

Source: Sharon Weinberger, “Intrigue, Brinksmanship Woven Into Hidden World of Pirate Ransoms,” AOL News, March 27, 2011.


22 percent of all kidnapping for ransom cases in Mexico involved former police or soldiers who participated in the kidnapping, according to a congressional report in Mexico.

75 percent of all kidnappings within Mexico go unreported.

The number of kidnapping for ransom incidents increased by 317 percent between 2005 and 2010.

(Additional police corruption information.)

Source: Nick Miroff, “As kidnappings for ransom surge in Mexico, victims’ families and employers turn to private U.S. firms instead of law enforcement,” Washington Post, February 26, 2011.

Between April and September 2010, there were 214 cases of mass kidnap for ransom cases in Mexico involving 11,333 people.

Most of the kidnapped victims were from Central America and traveling towards the United States.

The average ransom demand for the kidnapped was between $1,000 to $5,000.

Source: “More than 11,000 migrants abducted in Mexico,” BBC News, February 23, 2011.

In the kidnapping for ransom industry in Mexico, the highest ransom paid in the country is reported to be $30 Million for the release of the hostage.

Source: Peter Apps, “Factbox: Global kidnap hotspots and ransom costs,” Reuters, February 17, 2011.

According to kidnap and ransom consultants, negotiating a ransom payment is much more safer then attempting a rescue. The kidnap and ransom insurance industries claim that up to 50 percent of all military rescues ends up with the hostage being killed.

Source: Peter Apps, “Kidnap and ransom: negotiating lives for cash,” Reuters, February 17, 2011.

In the Indian ocean, pirates who hold shipping vessels for ransom receive between $3 to $4 Million per ship. Each ship is held hostage for about 100 days.

Source: Peter Apps, “Factbox: Global kidnap hotspots and ransom costs,” Reuters, February 17, 2011.

Pakistanis who are kidnapped in the country are held on average for about 30 days and released after a ransom payment of $50,000. Foreigners who are kidnapped tend to be held longer with the ransom demand being higher as well.

Source: Peter Apps, “Factbox: Global kidnap hotspots and ransom costs,” Reuters, February 17, 2011.

Shipping pirates around the world kidnapped and held for ransom 1,181 sailors aboard 53 ships in 2010. In total, there were 445 attacks by pirates in 2010, an increase of 10 percent from 2009.

(More kidnapping statistics and cases.)

Source: Kyodo, “Pirates capture record hostages at sea in 2010,” Japan Today, January 19, 2011.