Update 2 p.m.: A short time ago, according to baseball writer Rafael Rojas in Venezuela, police there posted a statement saying that they believe Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos is alive — perhaps a sign that the kidnappers have made contact.
According to the BBC, there were an estimated 1,179 kidnappings in Venezuela last year. Many others, though, may not have been reported because families quickly gave in to the kidnappers' demands. So, it's possible that Ramos isn't the first player to have been grabbed. Members of the anti-extortion and kidnapping unit of Venezuela's National Guard and members of the country's National Intelligence agency are part of the investigation.
What's certain, however, is that MLB players' families have been targeted. As The Associated Press, reports, "in Venezuela, which is home to dozens of Major League Baseball players, the families of wealthy athletes are periodically targeted by kidnappers in hopes of a hefty ransom."
In 2005, the mother of Detroit Tigers pitcher Ugueth Urbina was rescued at a mountain camp after five months in captivity. In 2009, relatives of retired pitcher Victor Zambrano and catcher Yorvit Torrealba (then of the Colorado Rockies; now with the Texas Rangers) were snatched. All were later released or rescued.
The Washington Nationals also issued a joint statement with Major League Baseball on the kidnapping this afternoon:
Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our
thoughts are with them at this time. Major League Baseball’s Department
of Investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this
matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have
been instructed to make no further comment.
Original Story: Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos has been abducted in Venezuela, according to media reports. The 24-year-old rising star for the Washington team was playing winter ball for the Aragua Tigers when he was abducted from his mother's home near Valencia, Venezuela.
Ramos was reportedly kidnapped at gunpoint from his mother's home by four men, who drove him away in an SUV, according to the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional. Ramos' family has not received any ransom demands, according to reports.
In a report issued this year, the U.S. State Department describes kidnapping as a "growing industry" in Venezuela.