A Mexican international footballer was kidnapped last night in his hometown, triggering a massive manhunt in territory that has been a battleground of warring drug cartels.
Alan Pulido, 25, was abducted after leaving a party late on Saturday night. The kidnapping happened near Pulido’s hometown of Ciudad Victoria, 200 miles south of the Texas border, according to family and state government officials.
Pulido’s brother Armando told the sports publication Medio Tiempo that his brother had attended the party with his girlfriend and left at around 11.30pm. Pulido was traveling back to Ciudad Victoria
when his vehicle was intercepted and he was seized by unknown individuals, his brother said.
A state security source told the Guardian Pulido had been seen in Ciudad Victoria driving a BMW. The source said it was not known if he was pulled from that vehicle by his captors.
Tamaulipas state prosecutor Ismael Quintanilla Acosta confirmed the disappearance, saying Pulido was “intercepted by armed persons” and that his whereabouts have been unknown ever since.
The kidnapping made national headlines in Mexico and brought outpourings of support.
“We sincerely hope that this ordeal ends before long and that Alan returns home safe and sound,” Pulido’s Greek club team, Olympiakos, tweeted on Sunday.
Pulido played for Mexico and was included the 2014 World Cup squad. He was left out of the squad for the Copa America, which starts next week, due to a legal dispute with his former Mexican club, Tigres, according to national coach Carlos Osorio.
Pulido’s kidnapping put attention on the public security problems in Mexico and especially Tamaulipas state, which occupies the country’s north-eastern corner and has been beset by violence and crimes such as kidnap and extortion.
Security analysts say the Gulf Cartel and its former armed wing Los Zetas have disputed the state since splitting in 2010.
Ciudad Victoria, the state capital, has been especially hard hit, with shootouts occurring in broad daylight and residents preferring to stay off the streets after dark.
A Mexico City think tank, the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, has ranked Ciudad Victoria the second-most dangerous city in the country for kidnappings.