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Security chip injects hope into Mexicans in fear of abduction

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Anthony Loyd
London Times
Saturday, Aug 30, 2008

Fearful of kidnap during the upsurge of organised crime ravaging their country, middle-class Mexicans are paying thousands of dollars to have tiny transmitter chips injected into their skin so that law enforcers can locate their whereabouts should they be held hostage.

Abductions increased by 40 per cent in Mexico between 2004 and 2007, making the country’s kidnap rate the worst in the world, ahead of Colombia and Iraq. Some analysts suggest that more than 6,500 Mexicans were kidnapped last year.

Each crystal-encased chip, the size of a grain of rice, is injected into the client’s arm by Xega, the Mexican security company manufacturing the transmitters. The chips send a signal that can be tracked by satellite to locate the client’s location.

The implant, usually placed in the arm, costs $4,000 (£2,200), with an additional annual payment of $2,200 — and it is no longer the preserve of the rich. “It’s not like we are wealthy people, but they’ll kidnap you for a watch . . . Everyone is living in fear,” said Cristina, 28, one Xega client who did not wish to give her last name.

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The West’s appetite for cocaine and marijuana, combined with the ready availability of guns, is at the root of the soaring levels of crime, which have overwhelmed federal and local police forces.

Some areas of the country resemble a small war zone as rival criminal gangs fight to control the lucrative drug and people-trafficking routes to the US.

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This article was posted: Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 3:04 am

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