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L.A. Judge Rescued By 'Elite Anti-Kidnapping Unit' After Being Held for Ransom In Colombia

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In Cartagena. (Photo from Getty Images Sport)
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A Los Angeles-area judge was rescued on Thursday after he was kidnapped while on vacation in Colombia.

Judge Benny Osorio's abduction had taken place about a week ago. His kidnappers had demanded $33,000 in random. According to the Associated Press, an "elite anti-kidnapping" unit recovered Osorio in Cartagena, and four suspected kidnappers were detained.

A State Department official wrote to LAist to say, "We are aware of reports that a U.S. judge was kidnapped and safely rescued in Colombia." They added: "We appreciate the outstanding efforts of all Colombian law enforcement forces involved in the successful resolution of this case; the tremendous cooperation of U.S. and Colombian law enforcement on this case is indicative of the strong partnership between our nations." LAist asked about Osorio's condition, but the department did not comment on the matter.

Osorio is originally from Castaic, according to the Los Angeles Sentinel, and was appointed to the L.A. Superior Court in 2008 by then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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In April, the State Department issued a travel warning for tourists who are thinking about heading to Colombia. Per the warning:

The incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has diminished significantly from its peak in 2000. However, kidnapping remains a threat. Terrorist groups and other criminal organizations continue to kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom. No one is immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors.

As noted at InSight Crime, a non-profit website with operations in D.C. and Colombia, the country has a history of kidnappings. There were 3,572 reports of kidnappings in 2000 alone (this figure is likely low, as other cases likely went unreported). By 2010, however, there were only 282 kidnappings reported. InSight Crime attributes the decline with anti-kidnapping policies implemented by former President Alvaro Uribe.

As kidnappings have declined, the details of the incidents have changed as well. According to GAULA, a Colombian anti-kidnapping and anti-extortion agency, political guerilla groups were responsible for an estimated 58% of kidnappings between 1970 and 2010. Today, unaffiliated criminals are responsible for 75% of kidnappings.

Colombia Reports noted that Cartagena is the second most-visited tourist city in the country (second only to Bogota).