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Thread: 3 Americans Abducted In Mexico

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    UPcrawfish is offline Member Allowed To Sit On The 1st Rung UPcrawfish
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    Nov. 28, 2006, 11:55PM
    3 Americans abducted on hunting trip in Mexico

    By JAMES PINKERTON
    Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

    HARLINGEN — Three U.S. citizens — including a prominent Laredo customs broker and a Sweetwater businessman — were kidnapped Sunday along with two others after going deer hunting in northern Mexico, U.S. authorities said Tuesday.

    A gang of armed men swept into the 6,500-acre Rancho La Barranca in the northern state of Coahuila Sunday evening and abducted the five, including customs broker Librado Piña Jr., 49; his son, Librado Piña III, 25; Sweetwater businessman David Mueller, 45; and two Mexicans — ranch cook Marco Ortiz and Monterrey resident Fidel Rodriguez Cerdan.

    Though details were sketchy Tuesday night, U.S. officials and relatives of the kidnapped men were stunned by the attack.

    ''We're pulling out all the stops," said one U.S. law enforcement agent, who asked not to be identified.

    ''We're going to go through the proper channels, but obviously we have back channels ... from years of experience trying to resolve these things."

    A Mexican investigator who spoke on condition of anonymity said the ranch was ransacked and such items as washing machines and beds were stolen, giving the case an unusual twist.

    "In a kidnapping, they aren't going to go about stealing objects," said the official.

    "It's an unusual situation."

    The abductions of Piña Jr., his son and Mueller bring this year's tally of Americans kidnapped in Mexico to 33.

    Of those, 14 Americans were kidnapped in the Nuevo Laredo area.


    No previous threats
    Piña family members said they suspected the kidnapping was financially motivated.

    "We absolutely cannot pinpoint the reason for this," a family member said.

    "We believe they saw a wealthy person with a big ranch house in Mexico and they went to see what they could steal."

    Family members said Piña Jr. had not been threatened.

    "If he had, he would have never gone to the ranch and put his life or the life of other people in danger," said another family member.

    Family members said they learned about the crime after two Mexican clients traveled to the ranch for a hunt, but found the house in shambles.

    The Piñas say they immediately contacted Mexican officials in Nuevo Laredo and Coahuila and met with the FBI that afternoon.

    Piña Jr. owns the ranch, which offers trophy whitetail-deer hunts and is located about a 30-minute drive northwest of the Colombia Bridge in Laredo.

    Santos Vasquez Estrada, the local head of the Coahuila state attorney general's office, said Piña Jr. may have been the main target of the attack.

    The U.S. law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity said it does not appear that the abducted men had any connection to ongoing turf wars that have killed hundreds of people in Mexico this year.

    ''We don't, at this time, have any hard evidence that any of these people were involved in any illicit activity," the source said.


    Group was well-armed
    The five men were hunting at the ranch about 8 p.m. Sunday when the assailants arrived.

    ''A large group did take over the ranch, and they were well-armed," the source said.

    U.S. officials said Tuesday that no ransom requests had been made so far.

    ''Since the kidnapping occurred within the sovereign nation of Mexico, the FBI has initiated a Foreign Police Cooperation investigation," said a statement from D. True Brown, acting special agent in charge of the FBI's San Antonio division.

    La Barranca ranch is one of two owned by Piña Jr., a second-generation Laredo customs broker, industrialist and owner of the Corona beer distributorship.

    His abduction shocked members of the close-knit Texas Deer Association.

    ''Librado has been a director on our board for several years, and is a good active member," said president Scott W. Bugai, a veterinarian from Seguin.

    ''I've been down to his ranch in Laredo, and he's a super-nice guy," Bugai said. ''This is a shock. What's the world coming to?"

    Lane Laning, the deer association's treasurer, said Piña Jr. has worked hard to introduce game management to ranches in northern Mexico.

    ''Boy, I'm praying for him ... and for Mr. Mueller, too," said Laning, who manages the 5F Game Ranch outside of Sweetwater. ''It's sad Mexico is turning out like this."

    Employees of Mueller's company, Sweetwater Steel, were distraught.

    ''It's been a long day, a pretty rough day," said J.L. Goldsmith, a salesman at the company that sells steel for construction.

    San Antonio Express-News correspondent Sean Mattson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

    james.pinkerton@chron.com
    "Don't be too optomistic, the light at the end of the tunnel MAY be an oncoming TRAIN!"

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    It seems that these stories of Texans crossing the border to hunt whitetails and being abducted/killed have been on the rise lately. I have a couple friends that still hunt Mexico, and I know some guys who used to hunt there and said they will never go back because of the shenanigans and crookedness of the Federales and the outlaws running around down there.

    Librado Pina is a big business man from Laredo. He bought the ranch a few years ago (it used to be called Los Apaches). If you are familiar with Hwy 2 North of the Columbia Bridge, La Barranca is the ranch with the green high fence.

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    Sorry...but IF I could afford to go to Mexico to hunt...with guns...and some Mexicans tried to jump us....they would have found some bodys one way or another.
    Like Wyatt said in Tombstone, "you might get me in a rush, but not before I make someones head into a canoe" or something like that.
    When I was a kid I was told anyone could be president.... now I believe it.

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    Scary. Hunt and spend your hunting dollars in the US!
    My Huntin' Equipment: Hoyt, Weatherby, early Jeep, early Bronco

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    After my experiences on a fishing trip out of Ensenada in 1969 I haven't been back and never will.

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE </div>
    Two kidnapping victims released
    Web Posted: 11/29/2006 01:59 PM CST

    Mariano Castillo
    Express-News Border Bureau

    LAREDO – Two of the five men who were kidnapped by masked gunmen at a ranch in Coahuila, Mexico near the border, were released Wednesday morning, a U.S. official said.

    David Mueller, an American, and Monterrey-area resident Fidel Rodriguez Serdan are being transported to Laredo, where investigators will debrief them, the official said.

    The pair, together with Laredo-based Customs broker Librado Piña Jr., his son, Librado Piña III and Nuevo Laredo resident Marcos Cantu were kidnapped from the Piña family&#39;s Rancho La Barranca on Sunday evening.

    Mueller, a resident of Sweetwater, and Rodriguez were found at about 1 a.m., according to the Website of Monterrey newspaper El Norte. The exact location of where they were found was unclear.

    "We successfully located two people, who are in good health, but the search continues for Librado Piña and his son, as well as the ranch’s cook (Cantu), and we&#39;re following several lines of investigation," Santos Vasquez, the Coahuila attorney general&#39;s representative, told El Norte.

    The whereabouts of the remaining three captives was unknown, the U.S. official said.[/b]
    rumors are that Mueller was found burried alive in a shallow grave

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    UPcrawfish is offline Member Allowed To Sit On The 1st Rung UPcrawfish
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    Laredo Morning Times 11/30....

    Masked gang kidnaps Piña Jr., III ; Family speaks out about attack in Mexico; men still missing
    By TRICIA CORTEZ, LAREDO MORNING TIMES 11/29/2006

    U.S. and Mexican authorities are searching aggressively for a well-known Laredo businessman and his son who were kidnapped Sunday night in an armed attack on their ranch in the Mexican state of Coahuila, near the Colombia-Solidarity Bridge.Also taken were two visiting hunters and the ranch cook.

    Missing are Librado Piña Jr., 49; Librado "Libby" Piña III, 25; David Mueller, 45, of Roscoe, Tex.; Fidel Rodriguez Cerdan of San Nicolas de la Garza, Nuevo Leon; and Marcos Cantu of Nuevo Laredo.

    Their whereabouts were unknown Tuesday, and no communication has occurred between them and their families or law enforcement, according to members of the Piña family, the FBI and officials with the U.S. consulates in Nuevo Laredo and Monterrey.

    "We want this to create awareness because we have a serious problem on the border," said one Piña family member who asked not to be identified. "Theres no way around it. If its happened to our family, watch out, because it could be yours."

    In a statement issued Tuesday evening, FBI officials confirmed they are working closely with Mexican law enforcement on the case.

    "The FBI and Mexican authorities are participating in the newly formed Bi-National Kidnapping Task Force, and have been aggressively pursuing leads on both sides of the border in an effort to effect the safe return of these individuals," stated the release, issued by D. True Brown, acting special agent in charge of FBIs San Antonio office.

    The armed kidnapping and robbery occurred around 8 p.m. at La Barranca de los Apaches, located on the highway to Piedras Negras about 30 miles northwest of the Colombia-Solidarity bridge. A large group of men numbering between 30 and 50 entered the ranch and forced the men onto the floor face down at gunpoint, according to several Piña family members.

    Details were provided by ranch staff who were at the scene but were not taken by the intruders.

    For the next six hours or so, the unknown assailants many of whom were masked proceeded to ransack and empty the 8,000-square-foot ranch house of all its contents including furniture, appliances, prized deer mounts, rifles and guns.

    They moved things by flatbed trailer, making several roundtrips to an unknown location estimated to be one hour to one-and-a-half hours away, family members said.

    The men stole everything of value outside the ranch house, including all vehicles and even some live fawns that Piña was raising as part of his deer-hunting and wildlife management operation.

    Piña Jr., a licensed U.S. customs broker, has owned the ranch since 1998. The Piñas frequently host hunts for whitetail deer and doves.

    "We absolutely cannot pinpoint the reason for this," a family member said. "There is no rhyme or reason as to why it happened. We believe they saw a wealthy person with a big ranch house in Mexico and they went to see what they could steal."

    Family members said Piña had received no previous threats to his life, money or property.

    "If he had, he would have never gone to the ranch and put his life or the life of other people in danger," said another family member. "Hes cautious and is the type of person that can quickly perceive a situation."

    Family members said they were first notified of the incident around 9:30 a.m. Monday by two Mexican clients who had traveled to the ranch for a hunt and dinner meeting.

    "They found the entrance gates open and saw no sign of human activity," said one family member. "They knew something was very wrong. The house was in shambles. It was completely open and everything had been taken."

    The Piñas immediately contacted Mexican officials in Nuevo Laredo and Coahuila and met with the FBI that afternoon.

    "I have a lot of faith in God that hes going to hear our prayers and safely return them home," said one family member.

    United Baptist Church, where Piña is a devoted member, started a prayer vigil for the five men Tuesday night. The all-night vigil was scheduled to end at 7 a.m. today.

    "The shock of it is that weve been praying for Nuevo Laredo since all of this violence started," said Pastor Mike Barrera, a close childhood friend of Piña.

    "The reality for our people in Los Dos Laredos oftentimes does not hit us until it hits close to home," Barrera said. "We live in a beautiful place but theres danger here on the border whether we want to admit it or not."

    On the Sunday morning that Piña was kidnapped, Barrera said he saw Piña at the church at 6:45 a.m., arriving early for the mens 7 a.m. prayer group.

    "I was surprised to see him because during hunting season, Piña always tells us, You wont see me November, December and January," Barrera said.

    "But he said he felt like he had to come to church that morning and pray with us and did not know why," Barrera said. "We think that God was preparing him for the ordeal that would happen 12 hours later."

    Piña is a 1975 graduate of Nixon High School. He has run the family business with one of his brothers since graduating from high school. In addition to Libby III, the elder Piña has two daughters.

    David Stone, the U.S. consul in Nuevo Laredo, said Tuesday he could not confirm the kidnapping incident.

    Stone, who took over the Nuevo Laredo office two months ago, said he "gets the sense that the security situation in Nuevo Laredo as it concerns kidnappings is that it is considered worse."

    He previously headed the consulate office in Matamoros, across from Brownsville, between 2000 and 2003 and said he cant remember a case "that involves a kidnapping at a ranch along the border."

    Todd Huizinga, spokesman at the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey, could not confirm the kidnapping, either.

    "Were trying to figure out what the situation is," Huizinga said. "We are working with the Mexicans to see what they can find out and what can be done."

    For their part, an official with the Coahuila state police department said their investigators are working on the case.

    "Our agents are seeking evidence about several potential suspects," said Mario Manuel Castro Narro, whos based in Villa de Fuentes. He declined to give other details.

    (Miguel Timoshenkov contributed to this report. Tricia Cortez may be reached at (956) 728-2568 or by e-mail at tricia@lmtonline.com)

    ©Laredo Morning Times 2006
    "Don't be too optomistic, the light at the end of the tunnel MAY be an oncoming TRAIN!"

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    UPcrawfish is offline Member Allowed To Sit On The 1st Rung UPcrawfish
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    Piñas make another plea
    By TRICIA CORTEZ, LAREDO MORNING TIMES 12/05/2006

    The Piña family made another heartfelt plea Monday at two local TV stations for the release of Librado Piña Jr., 49; his son Libby III, 25; and their ranch cook, Marcos Cantu of Nuevo Laredo. Officials said the family’s pleas Monday, as well as their Sunday appearance on CNN, are designed to help find answers.

    “We have every reason to hope and believe that the Piñas are still alive and will be returned to the United States safely,” Norman Townsend, supervisory senior resident agent of the Laredo FBI office, said Monday afternoon.

    Piña Jr.’s brother Eddie appeared on KGNS while brother Humberto spoke on KLDO, the local Univision affiliate.

    Both men asked the captors to contact their family to negotiate the safe return of their loved ones.

    The whereabouts of all three men remain unknown.

    The family also asked anyone with information, no matter how minor, to contact the FBI office in San Antonio at (210) 225-6741.

    Family members say they have received no word or message from their missing relatives or their captors since the armed assault on Piña Jr.’s ranch a week ago.

    The three men along with two visiting hunters were kidnapped Nov. 26 by a gang of masked gunmen from La Barranca de los Apaches in the Mexican state of Coahuila. It’s on the highway to Piedras Negras, about 30 miles northwest of Laredo’s Colombia-Solidarity Bridge.

    The two visiting hunters, David Mueller of northwest Texas and Felix Rodriguez Cerdan of the Monterrey area, were released early Wednesday morning on a country road in Mexico. They have since reunited with their families.

    (Tricia Cortez may be reached at 728-2568 or by e-mail at tricia@lmtonline.com.)
    "Don't be too optomistic, the light at the end of the tunnel MAY be an oncoming TRAIN!"

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    I have always wanted to go, but stories like these make me uneasy. Heck of a way to run a country.

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    I would like to hunt desert mule deer but really have to think about going now.

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