MEXICO CITY – Mexican authorities found a tiny tracking microchip that was implanted six years ago in former presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, missing since May 14 and thought to be in the hands of kidnappers.
The chip was discovered by federal investigators at a crossroads about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Fernandez de Cevallos’ ranch in the central state of Queretaro, Excelsior and La Jornada newspapers reported Wednesday.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office declined to comment when questioned by Efe about the press accounts.
“To remove the device, his captors apparently used scissors they took from his personal kit, with which he styled and trimmed his beard,” Excelsior said.
The transmitting microchip was apparently implanted in Fernandez de Cevallos in 2004, when he was serving as president of the Mexican Senate. The chip cost 46,860 pesos ($3,630), plus an additional $1,850 a year to keep it activated, Excelsior said.
The Mexican military sent up a specially equipped aircraft the day after the kidnapping, but was unable to locate the chip.
A private firm subsequently managed to pinpoint the chip’s position.
Evidence indicates that six people took part in the abduction, according to Excelsior, which said the fingerprints found on Fernandez de Cevallos’ abandoned vehicle did not match anything in the databases of Mexican law enforcement agencies or the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The federal AG office announced May 22 that it was suspending its investigation of Fernandez de Cevallos’ disappearance at the request of the family. The probe by the Queretaro state AG office continues, though without any sign of progress.
The kidnappers holding Fernandez de Cevallos contacted his family, but have not said how much ransom they want, Mexico City daily Reforma reported May 27.
Fernandez de Cevallos’ family has information that the 1994 presidential candidate of the conservative National Action Party, or PAN, “is alive and is confident that he will be released soon,” the newspaper said, citing sources close to the case.
The sources said “the kidnapping was done for purely economic reasons ... and for now it is not believed that there is a political or other motive,” Reforma said.
Fernandez de Cevallos’ relatives earlier issued a brief statement insisting that authorities “stay out of this process” to favor “negotiations, prioritizing the life and safety” of the former candidate.
The statement was signed by Diego Fernandez de Cevallos Gutierrez, son of the former presidential candidate.
Fernandez de Cevallos, who remains an influential figure in the ruling PAN, runs a successful law firm that has been involved in numerous high-profile cases. EFE