A British millionaire who was kidnapped from his home in Ecuador last weekend has been rescued by police, Metro reported. Ecuador’s police chief, Cesar Augusto Zapata, confirmed on social media that Colin Armstrong had been found alive and 9 people linked to the crime have been arrested so far.
He wrote on X: “On the road to Manabi, our units released citizen Colin A., kidnapped days prior in Los Rios. At the moment he is safe and healthy.” A photo of Mr Armstrong alongside two police officers was posted alongside the update in which his face was blurred.
En la vía a #Manabí, nuestras unidades LIBERARON al ciudadano Collin A., secuestrado días anteriores en #LosRíos. Al momento se encuentra sano y salvo.
📍Existen 9 aprehendidos
Noticia en desarrollo…#SinTreguaAlDelitopic.twitter.com/esaIjP0ZVa
— GraD. César Augusto Zapata Correa (@CmdtPoliciaEc) December 20, 2023
Notably, the 78-year-old millionaire, along with his partner Katherine Paola Santos, was abducted in the early hours of Saturday from a farm he owned near the city of Guayaquil, police in the South American country said. Local media reports say 15 criminals disguised as police officers forcibly entered his property and snatched him and his partner. The attackers drove the couple away in Mr Armstrong’s black BMW, which was later found abandoned nearby.
As per Metro, a notorious gang linked to a violent Mexican cartel that forces recruits to eat raw human hearts has been linked to Mr Armstrong’s kidnap. Officials were said to have been focusing on the group after the millionaire refused to pay them a monthly protection fee.
A source quoted in the Daily Telegraph said, ”It’s the most likely reason for the kidnapping at this point.”
Notably, Mr Armstrong, who also owns the Forbidden Corner visitor attraction in the Yorkshire Dales, is the president of Ecuadorean agriculture company Agripac. He is also the owner of Tupgill Park Estate in North Yorkshire, which was his childhood home. The businessman was awarded an OBE and CMG by the Queen for services to the British Monarchy in 2011.
According to the Guardian, kidnappings for ransom have become increasingly common in Ecuador, largely attributed to drug trafficking gangs.