Army officers honored for attempts to foil SKorean kidnapping

SEOUL — Two U.S. Army officers have been honored for their attempts to foil a kidnapping.

Maj. Federico Martinez and Capt. Rodolfo Martinez Jr. of the 2nd Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion each received a letter of appreciation, a plaque and a $300 reward last month from the Yangu Police Department.

Police said the men, who are not related, were in an underground parking garage the night of Aug. 12 when they came upon a kidnapping in progress.

Four men dressed in black clothes, masks and caps and armed with handcuffs and a stun gun were taking another man away in what police said was a kidnapping related to a dispute between rival South Korean gangs involved in illegal gambling.

One soldier temporarily blocked the path of the kidnappers’ vehicle and the other took photos of the suspects and the vehicle with his smartphone, Yangu police spokesman Lee Yong-ho said.

The kidnappers eventually got away and beat the victim before releasing him five hours later. The victim, a man in his mid-40s who was not badly injured, told police he did not know who snatched him or why.

He and his family moved to China two days after the incident, Lee said.

Subsequent investigation determined that the man was involved in an illegal gambling site with as many as 17 accomplices that earned more than $15 million this year prior to the incident, police said. Lee said the kidnappers were acting on behalf of associates involved with rival gambling websites.

Thanks in part to officers’ work, police have tracked down and arrested one suspect.



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