Monday saw police conducting aerial and ground searches in a cloud forest in northern Colombia in an attempt to locate the father of Liverpool sensation Luis Díaz, who was abducted over the weekend along with the player’s mother.
The couple was kidnapped on Saturday by armed men riding motorcycles as they were at a gas station in the little town of Barrancas. The 40,000-person hamlet of Diaz lies close to Colombia’s border with Venezuela. Within hours, police had put up barricades around the town and saved Diaz’s mother, Cilenis Marulanda.
However, Luis Manuel Díaz, his father, was still absent. Special forces conducted a search of a cloud forest-covered mountain area that crosses both countries on Monday. A $48,000 reward was also offered by the police for information that would lead to Diaz’s father.
According to officials, there is a chance that the elder Díaz was brought into Venezuela illegally, where he would be safe from the attention of Colombian law enforcement.
Among the most gifted players on Colombia’s national team, Díaz is presently a member of Liverpool in the English Premier League, having signed a $67 million contract to join the squad last year.
The 26-year-old striker did not play in Liverpool’s Sunday afternoon match against Nottingham Forest. After Díaz scored the team’s first goal in their 3-0 triumph, his teammates showed their support for him by holding up one of his jerseys on the field.
Díaz’s parents were kidnapped at a time when kidnappings in Colombia for ransom and corporate extortion are on the rise, despite efforts by the country’s first left-wing government to mediate ceasefires with rebel factions. For years, the nation’s rebel and criminal organizations have abducted citizens and held them ransom to fund their operations.
None of the armed organizations active in Colombia have acknowledged taking Diaz’s parents hostage to date.