May 31, 2016

CIUDAD VICTORIA, Mexico (AP) Police arrested a second suspect in the kidnapping of Mexican soccer player Alan Pulido, after wounding the man in a gunbattle, the Tamaulipas state prosecutor said Tuesday.

The kidnappers had demanded $325,000 (6 million pesos) from Pulido's family for his safe return, but the athlete overpowered and beat one of his captors so badly that he had to be hospitalized.

The first suspect, Daniel Morales, gave police enough information to find the second suspect, Osvaldo Velazquez, at a house in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the northern border state. Tamaulipas Attorney General Ismael Quintanilla said that when police approached, Velazquez opened fire and was wounded in the shoulder and neck when the officers shot back.

None of the police were injured, and Velazquez's wounds were not life-threatening, Quintanilla said. He said Velazquez is married to a cousin of Pulido's and may belong to a drug and kidnap gang. Velazquez appeared to have been the mastermind behind the kidnapping, he added.

In an interview Tuesday on Imagen Radio, Alan Pulido's brother, Armando Pulido, said that minutes before he learned his brother had escaped, a kidnapper had warned that Alan Pulido would be dead by the following day if the family did not come up with the money.

''We've always gone around very relaxed, without security, without anything, and for that reason, the truth is we could never imagine, we never imagined something of this magnitude,'' Armando Pulido said.

He said his brother was in good shape and resting.

Alan Pulido, a 25-year-old forward with Olympiakos in the Greek league, was abducted late Saturday by gunmen after leaving a party near Ciudad Victoria in the border state of Tamaulipas with his girlfriend. His brother was also at the party and found out within minutes of Alan's departure that he had been kidnapped. He said the family contacted authorities immediately.

The first ransom demand came early Sunday afternoon to a relative. From then on Armando Pulido handled the negotiations. When the kidnappers demanded 6 million pesos, ''I responded that it was impossible,'' he said.

He received a number of calls as the kidnappers grew more desperate. He kept telling them he could not get that kind of money.

On the last call around 11:30 p.m. Sunday, Armando Pulido told the kidnapper to call him back the next day and he would see how much money he could gather by then.

''No, in the morning you're going to find him dead,'' he said he was told.

Minutes later someone from the anti-kidnapping unit called to say that his brother had escaped.

In turned out that while Armando Pulido was negotiating over the ransom, his brother Alan had seized an opportunity.

According to an operator's summary of three 911 calls obtained by The Associated Press, Alan Pulido jumped his guard, wrestled away his gun and cellphone and alerted authorities to his location. Within minutes police arrived to whisk him away.

Tamaulipas has been plagued with violence in recent years as the Gulf and Zetas drug cartels battle for control. Both organizations also are involved in theft, extortion and kidnappings.

According to government statistics, 41 kidnappings were reported in the state in the first four months of this year compared to 78 during the same period last year. The actual number is believed to be much higher since most people do not report kidnappings to authorities.

Tamaulipas listed 179 homicides from January through April, compared to 211 during the same period last year.

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