Kidnapping of woman, 64, linked to organized crime

(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

NADIA MOHARIB QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:34 PM ET

CALGARY -- Police say a 64-year-old woman was kidnapped in Lethbridge, Alta., in what is believed to be an intimidation tactic by organized criminals over an unpaid debt.

And as they tried to determine what happened and hunt for culprits, investigators have been hampered by a lack of co-operation.

Lethbridge police Insp. Colin Catonio said the woman was kidnapped from the Heritage Heights neighbourhood Wednesday evening.

Her family reported her missing just before midnight when she didn't return home and after one of her children found her car abandoned but still running.

The woman was located at about 2 a.m., after she flagged down police in the Marda Loop area in Calgary.

She was taken to hospital as a precaution, but not injured.

Catonio said investigators are trying to determine what happened and that the victim has not been helpful offering leads.

"Apparently she's disclosed very little at this point, we hope that changes," he said, adding her reluctance to be forthcoming is likely out of fear.

"At this time, we lack information ... the victim has not been especially helpful."

Police do not consider the kidnapping random but instead a message to other family members who are involved in organized crime.

Catonio said it wasn't drug-related but would not elaborate on what might have spurred the kidnapping.

"A message was being sent to the family about an unpaid debt," he said. "We are pretty satisfied it is in regard to a debt collection, unpaid debts.

"The public at large has nothing to fear unless they are involved the organized crime world."

Catonio said the kidnapping is unusual, not only for the city about 210 km southeast of Calgary, but for larger centres.

Calgary police organized crime Sgt. Jason Walker said it is shocking to hear a woman, apparently collateral damage, would be targeted but not entirely surprising.

"That's pretty low -- it surprises you the depths people would sink to," he said. "I don't know of a lot of situations where loved ones are purposely targeted; it just goes to show sometimes you can't separate (a life of crime) from personal life.

"It's a little bit shocking when you hear it is a 64-year-old."

nadia.moharib@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNNAdiaMoharib


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