Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

THE gang linked to the kidnapping of Colin Armstrong could be allied to a brutal Mexican cartel that forces new recruits to eat the hearts of rivals straight from their chest.

Los Tiguerones, who identify themselves with tattoos of beret-wearing tigers, have been identified as the main suspects before the Brit businessman, 78, was freed on Wednesday.

InstagramColin Armstrong had been kidnapped on Saturday[/caption]

Twitter / @Dubitandum_Los Tiguerones are allied to the brutal Mexican cartel named Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG), pictured[/caption]

LiveGorecomNew CJNG members are forced to eat the hearts of rivals straight from their chest in a horrofying initiation[/caption]

Officials have reportedly been focusing on the gang for allegedly snatching Armstrong after he refused to pay them a monthly protection fee.

A well-placed source quoted in the Daily Telegraph said: “It’s the most likely reason for the kidnapping at this point.”

Police have confirmed nine suspects have so far been arrested, although they have not officially said yet whether they belong to Los Tiguerones.

The shadowy gang was a small support unit of Los Choneros, one of Ecuador’s oldest organised crime groups.

Los Choneros were allied to El Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel and Los Tiguerones is known to be linked to Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG).

The cartel is a Mexican organised crime syndicate known for its extreme use of violence.

Last year, it emerged the CJNG gang was forcing new members into cannibalism and had started sharing videos of gang members feasting on the hearts of their enemies.

Reports at the time said shocking public displays of aggression were used to threaten rival groups and show dominance.

Earlier this year it emerged Los Tiguerones had also moved beyond Ecuador into Peru and were operating in the northern part of the country’s capital Lima.

Criminals involved in a drugs turf war with the gang were blamed for a bomb blast in August last year in the Guayaquil neighbourhood of Cristo del Consuelo which killed five people and left 17 more injured, although initial reports pointed to Los Tiguerones being behind it.

In recent years Ecuador has become a favoured destination for criminal organisations in Colombia and Peru smuggling the class A drug into the country before shipping it abroad.

The violent fight for control of the lucrative cocaine trafficking trade involving Los Tiguerones has transformed Ecuador, one of the calmest countries in Latin America until just a few years ago.

This September, Los Tiguerones were identified as the leading extortion gang in Guayaquil, located near Baba, where Colin’s ranch is located.

Police chief Alberto Santamaria has said: “Los Tiguerones tattoo a tiger with a beret and stars that represent their hierarchy in that organisation.”

A well-placed source said: “Before entering prison inmates identify themselves with tattoos so they don’t get put in a rival wing because they know that if that happens they’re going to die.”

It comes after Brit millionaire Colin Armstrong was rescued by cops in Ecuador.

The businessman, 78, was kidnapped in the early hours of Saturday at his ranch in Baba, Los Rios province, by 15 men disguised as police.

On Wednesday Cesar Augusto Zapata Correa, Ecuador‘s police chief, tweeted that Colin had been found near Manabi – not far from Los Rios where he was snatched.

“Our units released citizen Colin A., kidnapped a few days ago in Los Rios. At the moment he is safe and healthy,” Cmr Correa wrote.

The official X account of Ecuador’s national police on Wednesday morning also retweeted a picture appearing to show Colin with two officers, with the message: “#SinTreguaAlDelito” (#NoTruceToCrime).

Cops said nine people had been arrested in connection with the kidnap.

Colin’s son Nick Armstrong, who helps run the family estate in North Yorkshire, had flown to Ecuador to help in the hunt.

The father and son are directors of the 500-acre Tupgill Park Estate near Leyburn in North Yorkshire, which has been the family home for more than 45 years. 

On Tuesday, the tycoon’s pole-dancing lover reappeared at Nick’s house wearing a bomb vest.

Katherine Paola Santos was abducted with her wealthy Brit boyfriend on Saturday.

But 24 hours later she was reportedly seen at the home of his son Nick who helps run the family’s agricultural supplies firm in Ecuador, in a taxi wearing the device.

Police were alerted and a bomb disposal team raced to the scene.

A video emerged appearing to show an operative carefully removing the vest from Santos.

The terrified woman then flees to safety as the bomb disposal expert pulls off the apparent device.

Fitness fanatic Katherine is being questioned by cops over the kidnapping, her apparent release and whether she was forced to wear the explosive vest by the people who snatched Colin.

Katherine was identified as the woman in the video by Colombian news outlet El Heraldo.

And meanwhile, Ecuadorian outlet Ecuavista said the woman in the video is the “one who was with the businessman during the kidnapping”.

The footage was also shared on Ecuadorian TV.

Local politician Ricardo Vanegas told The Sun that the glamorous Katherine is now being quizzed by cops.

Colin, a UK Honorary consul in Ecuador until 2016, is a popular figure in the area where locals called him “Mr Colin”.

He was awarded the OBE and Companions of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to the British Monarchy in 2011, The Standard reports.

Fellow local Alberto Alvarado added: “The news took us by surprise, no one imagined that they would do that to him.”

The couple were said to be driven away in Colin’s black BMW.

Cops initially managed to activate satellite tracking of the vehicle which showed it was being driven south towards Guayaquil, the largest city in Ecuador, but they eventually lost track of it.

Local reports say British intelligence was involved in the hunt for Colin.

The Foreign Office previously said: “We are in contact with the Ecuadorean authorities following the disappearance of a British man and are supporting his family.”

Cops are investigating the kidnap at Rancho Rodeo Grande, thought to have taken place at around 2.45am local time.

One local report said the raiders were wearing police uniforms as disguises.

@CmdtPoliciaEc / XCOps in Ecuador announced on Wednesday the Brit, 78, had been rescued[/caption]

InstagramKatherine Santos, pictured, was also snatched alongside her Brit boyfriend before returning home wearing a bomb vest[/caption]

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