On Thursday morning last week the mother of Pittsburgh Pirates Catcher Elías Díaz was kidnapped from her hometown of San Francisco near Maracaibo, in Zulia, northwestern Venezuela.

Ana Soto, who is 72, was abducted ‘just 15 minutes after [Díaz] had left her home, which he had been visiting before the start of spring training in Florida.’ She was rescued on Sunday and six people – five of them members of the state police in Zulia – have been arrested in connection with the case. It has been reported that a ransom was not paid.

Soto was reportedly found in the home of one of the arrested police officers. CBS Pittsburgh quotes a Venezuelan-American, Luis Granes, as saying “What I found out is that one of the cops was a neighbor, family-related to Elias, I think. He was the one providing all the inside information for these guys to act.”

The security situation in Venezuela is very volatile, as widespread shortages have led to unrest. President Maduro has tended towards an authoritarian response, shutting down the opposition and the press, and giving more power to the security services.

Speaking out against President Maduro can be hazardous. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that ‘several of the Pirates players have spoken out against the Venezuelan government and have not been home in years, including closer Felipe Rivero and Francisco Cervelli.’


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