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Ana Soto, the 72-year-old mother of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz, has been freed by Venezuelan police after being kidnapped, according to BBC News.
Her six kidnappers included five police officers in the Zulia state police force, according to the report. She was kidnapped in Maracaibo, a western city in Venezuela, and was found in the home of a police officer.
“Officials said one of the officers arrested was a neighbour who ‘provided all the information needed’ to carry out the kidnapping,” BBC News reported
According to Douglas Rico, the head of Venezuela’s investigative force (CICPC), no ransom was paid to the kidnappers. Soto was abducted on Thursday just 15 minutes after Diaz lefter her home, and she was rescued on Sunday.
Marly Rivera of ESPN shared a photo of Soto after her rescue:
Marly Rivera @MarlyRiveraESPN
A friend from Venezuela sent me this picture of @Pirates catcher Elias Diaz’s mom after she was saved from her captors / Un colega de Venezuela me envió esta foto de la madre de Elías Díaz después de ser liberada tras su secuestro ¡Enhorabuena! https://t.co/qzLo5O1H63
“The Pittsburgh Pirates are relieved and overjoyed to learn that Elias Diaz’ mother, Ana Soto, has been rescued and safely reunited with her family,” Pirates’ President Frank Coonelly said in a statement (h/t CNN.com). “We are incredibly grateful for the swift and effective work of the local law enforcement officials in Venezuela who brought this terrifying act to the safe conclusion for which we had all prayed. As an organization, we will continue to support Elias and his family as they move forward together.”
As BBC News noted, athletes and their families are popular targets for kidnappers in Venezuela. Tampa Bay Rays catcher Wilson Ramos, then with the Washington Nationals, was kidnapped in the country in 2011 when visiting family in Valencia and was “freed from a mountain hideout by members of the security forces a few days later.”
Additionally, Juan Manaure’s 15-year-old son was kidnapped and murdered last year while the basketball player was back in the country celebrating Christmas.