Tuesday, August 16, 2022

ARGENTINA | 27-01-2020 15:53

Lanús player freed by kidnappers after US$5,000 ransom payment

Superliga defender Lautaro Valenti freed after being detained by kidnappers. Criminals demanded US$70,000 – but eventually accepted US$5,000 and 3,000 pesos.

A professional footballer for Atlético Lanús has been released from captivity after being briefly detained by kidnappers, according to reports.

Defender Lautaro Valenti, 21, was freed after the payment of just US$5,000 and 3,000 pesos, after having been kidnapped with a friend over the weekend, according to police and judicial sources.

At first, the kidnappers had demanded some US$70,000 as ransom.

According to a club spokesmen, the Superliga star was snatched while with his friend, Tomás García, near 1.30am on Saturday, just a few blocks from his girlfriend's house.

The young man had returned just a few hours earlier from Mar del Plata, where he played a match in Gameweek 17 against Aldosivi. He asked the coaching staff to return to Buenos Aires under his own steam, not via coach with his colleagues.

Police sources, who asked to remain anonymous, told Perfil that once the criminals discovered that they were dealing with a top-tier athlete, they began to demand a bigger ransom. For that, they contacted the player's agent, Adrián Ruocco, who reportedly handled the negotiations.

Two hours after their first call, Ruocco went to a meeting point indicated by the thieves in Avellaneda and handed over the final sum of US$5,000 and 3,000 pesos.

Some time later, around 6pm, Valenti and his friend were released at the intersection of Chile and Hipólito Yrigoyen streets, in the southern part of the Conurbano.

The footballer, in addition to being beaten up, had his shoes, jewellery, documents and credit and debt cards stolen. The kidnappers did the same to García.

Police investigators in Avellaneda are now involved and are attempting to  find the perpetrators. However, up until the time of writing, nothing was known about them. To try to locate them, police sources said they would use CCTV cameras, both private and public, in order to identify them.

"Valenti returned from Mar del Plata with his girlfriend and Tomás. He left his bag and then went with his friend to buy a pizza" before being attacked, said a police investigator,  adding that the defender "ended with some scratches and blows from the struggle with the captors."

Lanús issued a statement saying: "Having taken note of what happened, we immediately put ourselves at his disposal to provide him with the necessary support."

The sportsman made headlines at the beginning of this year, when he was called up to represent Argentina's national under-23 team in a crucial pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Colombia, though the club refused to let him go, given they still have a chance of competing for the title.


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