MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Police in Venezuela have found the car used to kidnap former Twins catcher Wilson Ramos, and now some of the best specialists in kidnapping, intelligence and criminal investigation are hard at work trying to find him.
Ramos was at a family home Wednesday night near Valencia, when armed men stormed inside, kidnapped him and threw him in a van. He was evidently talking with his father and brothers when he was taken.
There is also no word on a ransom demand. According a Venezuelan baseball official, the abductors haven’t made contact with the player’s family.
“So far, we have not had any communication with the kidnappers,” said Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami. “As soon as we became aware of this incident, we got in touch with a team of specialists from the highest level from the CICPC (Scientific and Forensic Police), headed by the sub-director of the CICPC, Commissioner Luis Carabin, and the best specialists in kidnapping, in intelligence, in criminal investigation.”
Ramos is a catcher for the Washington Nationals. He had a .267 batting average with 15 homeruns and 52 runs batted in for Washington in the 2011 season. The Nationals acquired him from the Twins in July of 2010, when the Twins traded for pitcher Matt Capps.
The 24-year-old was in Venezuela, preparing to play for a Venezuelan baseball team during the off-season. His fellow teammates on the Nationals have expressed concern for his safety. Drew Storen tweeted, “extremely upsetting news about Ramo. Thoughts and prayers with him. Scary situation.”
The Nationals and Major League Baseball issued a joint statement on the situation.
“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,” the statement reads.
From Florida, Twins Catcher Drew Butera echoed the same thoughts about Ramos.
“Definitely worried about him. Definitely a little scared for him. I know things over there can get really crazy. He definitely has my thoughts, my prayers. And I know my extends the same thing for him and his family,” Butera said.
Venezuela has one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world, done mostly for money as the economy crashes. Sometimes people are held for long amounts of time. But Dr. Patrick McNamara at the University of Minnesota, who has studied Latin American history, believes it will be different this time.
“Because it’s getting such huge attention, immediate attention, they’re going to want to get rid of him right away,” said McNamara.
Venezuelan Police last year said that 618 kidnappings were reported in 2009, and the numbers have grown rapidly in recent years. Some experts actually think the number of kidnappings is actually much higher.
Sports analysts believe that Ramos was a logical target to be kidnapped because he was financially successful, and now international pressure to find him is mounting.
Venezuelans are baseball-crazy and extremely proud when one of their own makes it to the U-S major leagues. There’s evidently much despair over Ramos’ disappearance, and some have called for a halt to Venezuela’s baseball season.