Rabbi Rotem - Chabad - August 2011
Rabbi Rotem. Photo by Chabad
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A Chabad envoy to Ecuador was kidnapped and then released last week, according to information that was made public for the first time on Thursday.

Rabbi Tomer Rotem was kidnapped by an Israeli-headed crime ring that demanded a ransom of half a million dollars for his release. The local authorities were able to trace the kidnappers, release Rotem, and arrest the crime ring headed by an Israeli with a criminal past.

Rabbi Rotem was on his way to a small city outside Quito when he went missing. His wife, Rivka, attempted to contact him multiple times to no avail, and eventually called the Israeli Embassy which directed her to the local authorities. After a short while, the kidnappers called Rivka with a list of demands.

After identifying the crime ring, Quito’s special police forces began putting immense pressure on the kidnappers, and were able to secure Rotem’s release after four days in captivity. The investigation revealed that the leader of the gang was an Israeli man and former member Chabad member who knew Rotem and his wife. His identity has still not been released.

In the wake of the kidnapping, Rabbi Rotem and his wife have chosen to stay in Ecuador where they are well-known to Israeli travelers who have passed through Quito in the last eight years. However, the two have requested enhanced security.