Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos only made $415,000 last season. But, for his Venezuelan kidnappers, who are notorious for demanding steep prices for their victims, his worth can be somewhere between $10 million and $20 million, according to the Washington Post.
The Post's Juan Forero has been reporting in Venezuela on the kidnapping of Ramos and said it is not a criminal act so much as a way to make a living. Luis Cedeno, director of Active Peace, a think tank in the capital of Caracas that studies crime, told Forero that in a country with 895 officially registered kidnappings last year, abduction for ransom has become a big business.
Cedeno also said that with a big target like Ramos, a baseball player who earned a lot of money, the suspects are likely to be part of a criminal organization, not just a fly-by-night team. If they do make contact with the Ramos family, it will likely not be to demand a dead-drop location but rather to give instructions in the first stage of a complex operation in which money is deposited in foreign accounts.
And that money would be in the millions.
Friends of the Ramos family have said the family has not been contacted by the captors about ransom. Among the friends are Enrique Brito, a Venezuela baseball official, Gustavo Marcano, an agent for Ramos who has known him five years, Tamara Corredor and Marfa Mata. Marcano and Corredor said the Ramos family spent Thursday in their living room with investigators from Venezuela's judicial police, as well as officials from other law enforcement agencies.
We are just waiting for that phone to ring, Marcano said.
Ramos, 24, who just finished his rookie season with the Nationals (batting .267 with 15 homeruns and 52 RBIs), was kidnapped from the Ramos family home in the Santa Ines district of Valencia, Venezuela, Wednesday evening. According to the Washington Post, friends of the family said Ramos had been enjoying time with his father, Abraham, one of his brothers, David, and a cousin when two vehicles drove by their house and circled.
Suddenly, one of the vehicles stopped and two men ran out, guns drawn, and lunged toward Ramos. He was then driven away in one of the cars, an orange Chevrolet Captiva SUV, according to the Twitter account of the spokeswoman for his Venezuelan League team, the Aragua Tigers.
They hauled him up by his neck, a gun to the head, and that is how they took him away, Corredor said.
Venezuelan police found the car abandoned Thursday morning in the Montalbán neighborhood of the small city of Bejuma, about 25 miles west of Valencia.
Some good news came out of Thursday morning when the Venezuelan police Twitter feed said that they confirmed Ramos was alive.
NBC Sports reported that the abduction appeared to be the first case involving a Major League Baseball player.
Related Article: Washington Nationals Catcher Wilson Ramos Alive: Venezuelan Police