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Tony Dunnell

Potential Kidnapping Threat in Iquitos?

By February 27, 2012

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On February 21, 2012, the US Department of State released an emergency warning regarding a potential kidnapping risk in Iquitos:

"The U.S. Embassy warns U.S. citizens of a potential kidnapping threat in the Iquitos area.  The Embassy has received information that members of criminal organizations may be planning to kidnap foreigners in the Iquitos region.  Possible targets, time frames, and methods are not known."

Following the warning, Jesus Trujillo, chief of the National Tourist Police in Iquitos, stated that local authorities "are already coordinating a monitoring plan to protect visitors from the moment they arrive in the city."

The lack of detail in the US warning has upset some local agencies, which see the statement as potentially tarnishing the city's image -- perhaps unnecessarily. On February 24, Carolina Pacheco Cubas, supervisor of the IPerú tourist board in Iquitos, told Radio La Voz de la Selva that she had no knowledge of where the US was receiving its information. She added, "We have checked with all police stations in the city if they have received a report of kidnapping, which is a very serious crime, and did not find a single complaint."

Despite some doubts as to the true risks involved, all tourists heading to Iquitos should keep track of the situation. The city has not been put off limits for US Embassy personnel, but the embassy is advising tourists to "take this threat into consideration and practice good personal security while working in or traveling to Iquitos."

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