What is the latest on the Ericson Aircrane crew being held hostage in Ecuador. I hear the ransom this time is $80 million. There is a lot of postings regarding this on the Airtanker Message Board as most of us Airtanker pilots have worked with these chaps. Forty gutless, slimy, puss-eyed, mongrel dogs nabbed these guys and so far as I know 3 are from Oregon and one KIWI. They only got a few million before when they nabbed 10 oil workers.
I don't think it's a lack of interest from the forum here, but a lack of information from any source regarding what is happening. The official word from Erickson was that the US State Department was handling all issues regarding this matter, and that Erickson had no further comment on the matter; to protect the individuals concerned.
This had not changed, and individuals at Erickson told me that they had heard nothing, but had no reason to believe that anything adverse had occurred to their employees at this time.
The tanker-pilots bulletin board contained a link to the Oregonian story, which was really the first news in some time. The original kidnapping story was posted in this forum as soon as it happened and there were credible news reports regarding the story. My colleagues were just asking what was happening with this issue, as they had searched on the Net in the last week and were unable to find any news. Like so many stories, other than the inital breaking news and the conclusion, it falls to the local news sources to maintain interest in the story. In this case, the Medford Mail Tribune has continued to cover the story closely.
Unfortunately, the issue of kidnapping helicopter crews seems to be becoming a bit of a problem. It has been covered here on this forum, regarding a couple of instances in the recent past.
As expressed earlier, I sincerely wish for a rapid and safe resolution to this terrible situation, and yes, dosen't make a very pleasant Christmas for the families involved.
Medford Mail Tribune. 30 November 2000
Kidnappers want $80 million(USD)
Officials contacted Gold Hill men’s captors in S. America 2 weeks ago
By Melissa Martin
GOLD HILL — The guerrilla gunmen who captured three Gold Hill helicopter mechanics last month have demanded an $80 million ransom, a South American newspaper reported.
A journalist working in the Amazon reported the ransom demand in a story published in El Comercio, the daily newspaper in Quito, said Arturo Torres, a spokesman for El Comercio.
The story reported that officials made contact with the kidnappers about two weeks ago and determined that the Erickson Air-Crane employees are still alive.
The FBI is investigating the kidnapping of Gold Hill residents Steve Derry, 40, Arnold Alford, 41, and Jason Weber, 29, all helicopter mechanics with Erickson Air-Crane, a Central Point company that builds and operates heavy-lift helicopters used for construction, firefighting and logging around the world. The mechanics were among 10 foreign workers taken at gunpoint Oct. 12 from an oil camp in Ecuador near the Colombian border.
Two French pilots escaped to safety and were debriefed and interviewed by officials in Quito.
Erickson Air-Crane’s chief operating officer, Lee Ramage, said in a letter that his company is working with government agencies in the United States and South America for the release of the Gold Hill men.
"We care deeply for our employees and their families and are doing everything possible to ensure the safe and swift return of our employees," Ramage wrote.
The U.S. Embassy in Quito confirmed that government agencies are working for the hostages’ release, but he said his agency couldn’t give information that might hinder negotiations.
"We don’t want them to be able to look at the cards we’re holding in our hands," said Scott Rauland, press attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Quito.
The Quito newspaper’s report that kidnappers have demanded $80 million doesn’t have to be viewed negatively, said a vice president of another local helicopter corporation.
"It’s encouraging," said Mark Lindamood, vice president for Carson Services Helicopter Logging Division in Jacksonville. "You’d really be worried if you didn’t hear anything."
Some companies carry hostage or ransom insurance for their employees in other nations, but it’s not known if Erickson Air-Crane is one of those.
An insurance policy may be the reason two French pilots managed to escape, Lindamood said. If the pilots were insured, the kidnappers may not have wanted to deal with them because insurance companies have been known to do whatever it takes to get their money back, he said.
"If you’ve got insurance, you don’t have to worry because insurance companies will send their own people in to get their ransom money back and deal with the kidnappers," Lindamood said.
Carson Services employs 230 people and dispatches helicopters and personnel for projects around the world. The company has 30 years’ experience sending employees to Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and the Middle East and has never experienced a kidnapping.
"We provide drivers, cars and bodyguards to assist our people in going shopping or other places. We have good communications systems and heavy-duty cars, something like a Suburban, but even sturdier," Lindamood said.
"There are certain precautions you have to take in this nasty world we live in."
Ole, don't be so sensitive; you only allowed a few hours for replies and some of us have other things to do besides reading PPRuNe.
I think Hotline has hit the nail on the head; on this side of the Atlantic we have no news on this issue. Once past the 'breaking news' sketch, it takes a lot of delving to find out more.
Again, as Hotline says, there are several contributors here with first hand experience of similar problems. We had 8 pilots kidnapped in 5 months last year, so our sympathies are with the crews concerned (and there families)
But Ecuadoran paper says police confirmed $80 million demand for safe return of Gold Hill men, five others
By Melissa Martin
An Ecuadoran military spokesman has denied that the kidnappers of eight foreign oil workers — including three Gold Hill helicopter mechanics — have demanded an $80 million ransom.
"There was a version that came out in the newspapers, and that’s what it was: a version from the newspapers," Walter Nieto, the defense ministry spokesman, told The Associated Press on Monday.
However, the newspaper that reported the ransom amount last month is standing by its story, a spokesman told the Mail Tribune Thursday.
"We confirmed that amount with the police," said Arturo Torres, a spokesman for El Comercio.
A story published in El Comercio, Quito’s leading newspaper, on Nov. 17 attributed the $80 million ransom figure — $10 million for each hostage — to defense minister Hugo Unda. The story also cited a similar ransom news report aired on Ecuavisa, a Quito television station.
"Those are rumors that have no foundation," Nieto told the Associated Press, adding that Unda did not make such a statement.
Another military source, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Associated Press the interested parties have hired a team of international specialists who are negotiating with the kidnappers to release their victims.
Torres said the newspaper has reason to believe negotiations are progressing and a solution will be reached soon.
Gunmen commandeered a helicopter on Oct. 12 from oil camps in the El Coca region, 150 miles northeast of Quito, seizing five Americans, a New Zealander, a Chilean, an Argentine and two Frenchmen.
Among the Americans were three Gold Hill men, Steve Derry, Arnold Alford and Jason Weber. They and a New Zealander, Dennis Corrin, are employees of Erickson Air-Crane Co. in Central Point, which specializes in heavy-lift helicopters.
All were working at the oil camps.
The two Frenchmen, both pilots, escaped during a rainstorm two days after their capture.
The kidnappers have not left the country, but are holding the hostages in a hard-to-reach mountainous location called the Cascales zone in eastern Sucumbios, according to a translated version of an article published Oct. 26 in El Comercio.
Some villagers from Pompeya, located near the oil camp, witnessed the abduction and were forced to travel about 60 miles with the captors, the newspaper reported.
"People ... were watching a game of ‘ecuavoley’ when they were forced to accompany the kidnappers to serve as human shields. While they (the kidnappers) occupied the middle seats of the ranchera (an open passenger transport vehicle) that they took from the town, the villagers rode on the sides," the article quoted a soldier as saying.
An army general from the Amazon told El Comercio: "We are putting patrols in the entire area. We are analyzing the different sensitive areas and we hope to have good results."
The kidnappers may be motivated to treat their hostages well, according to a translated version of a Nov. 30 article published in El Comercio. Kidnappers who don’t mistreat their victims but eventually grant their freedom receive a lighter sentence, about six months in jail.
"The target of the captors has been wealthy people and most recently, those with life insurance, because the insurance companies negotiate with the kidnappers," the article stated.
Monday December 18 5:58 PM ET Ecuador Gunmen Said Asking Ransom
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - Kidnappers holding eight foreigners hostage in Ecuador's oil-rich northeast jungle have made a ransom demand and are refusing to negotiate the price, the commander of the air force said Monday.
"The kidnappers are in contact with emissaries for the victims and they do not want to lower at all the amount of ransom they have asked for,'' Air Force Gen. Osvaldo Dominguez told reporters.
He declined to reveal the ransom demand and provided no further details.
Earlier this month, Ecuador's Defense Ministry denied news reports that the kidnappers had demanded $80 million.
The kidnappers, believed to be a criminal gang with primarily Ecuadorean and Colombian members, seized the foreigners in October in a commandeered helicopter from oil camps in Ecuador's El Coca region, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) east of Quito.
Officials from the companies that employ the men were not immediately available for comment.
The kidnap victims include a Chilean, an Argentine and a New Zealander, as well as five Americans. Two French men who also were taken escaped days later.