Brazil Police Rescue Mother-in-Law of Formula One Tycoon
Brazilian law enforcement agents raided a Sao Paulo based safe house on Sunday and freed the kidnapped mother-in-law of Formula One billionaire Bernie Ecclestone. Aparecida Schunk was found unharmed by her captors as police arrested two men on site.
Ecclestone is one of the most powerful men in sport with a net worth of over three billion dollars. He married his current wife, Fabiana Flosi, in 2012, after meeting her at the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix. Flosi’s 67-year old mother was kidnapped on July 22 after she was tricked into believing that her captors were delivery men. They approached her home in the affluent Jardim Santa Helena district carrying a box. When a maid opened the door, the assailants rushed through the door, grabbed Schunk, and forced her into a car that was later abandoned 25 miles away.
The kidnappers soon demanded a ransom of 120 million reais which is the equivalent of $36.5 million. This ransom demand is the largest out of any kidnapping case in Brazil, where there are hundreds each year.
After being a hostage for nine days, police located and rescued Schunk. No money was paid to the kidnappers throughout the ordeal. In a one-paragraph statement, police said, “She was unharmed. Two men were arrested at the hideout near the city of Cotia. The operation continues.” No further comment was made by Sao Paulo police. However, local news reports claim the police are searching for other members of the gang.
Despite being in the worst economic crisis in nearly a century, the Brazilian government has managed to decrease the number of kidnappings which Brazil is notorious for. Every year, hundreds of desperate gangs kidnap wealthy individuals in an effort to score a large ransom payment. The recent crackdown by the government and police forces, including the formation of an anti-kidnap division, has led to the decrease in kidnappings.