CARACAS, Venezuela -- Kidnappers holding the mother of
Detroit Tigers pitcher Ugueth Urbina kept her in a dense jungle and
surrounded the area with explosives to keep her from fleeing,
police said Saturday.
Maura Villarreal was rescued Friday in a police raid that lasted
eight hours and ended with one of her abductors dead, two captured
and at least seven on the run. Villarreal, 54, was not harmed,
police said Saturday while revealing new details of her ordeal.
During more than five months of captivity, Villarreal slept on a
mattress in a makeshift tent at an abandoned campground called Las
Nieves, or The Snows, in Venezuela's rugged southern mountains.
The nearest village was an eight-hour drive away, and police who
eventually raided the camp had to arrive by helicopter and boat up
a mountain river in Venezuela's Bolivar province, some 250 miles
southeast of Caracas.
The camp was a drug traffickers' hide-out, police said. On
Saturday, they blamed Venezuelan and Colombian drug smugglers for
the kidnapping, saying authorities found weapons, grenades and a
huge cache of at least 1,300 pounds of cocaine at the camp.
Marcos Chavez, director of the federal police, showed reporters
a Colombian identity card found at the camp and believed to belong
to one of the men who escaped.
Villarreal told reporters late Friday she was not treated "well
or poorly," and that the most hurtful thing was having to bear her
captors' taunts that her wealthy son did not love her because he
did not pay the $6 million ransom demand.
She said she had sent letters to her son and that her captors
had filmed videos of her, but Chavez said the family received no
evidence of her condition in captivity.
Urbina was reunited with his mother late Friday in Caracas, more
than five months after she was abducted from her home in a
southeastern suburb of the capital by men dressed as police. The
house there stands out as the most expensive on the block --
Urbina's salary this year is $4 million.
The abduction highlighted a rise in kidnappings in the South
American country, the homeland of dozens of major league baseball
players who at times have become targets for criminals because of
their wealth. About three-quarters of the world's kidnappings occur
in Latin America, according to experts, with the bulk occurring in
Colombia, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.
Many of the dozens of Venezuelan players in the majors return to
their homeland in the winter to play in the Venezuelan league and
spend time with their families and friends -- usually in the poor
neighborhoods where they grew up.
Urbina's family has been a victim of crime before. His father,
Juan, died a decade ago while resisting a robbery attempt in