|Source: Baptist Standard|
After spending just over a day in captivity, Baptist pastor Lorenzo Ortiz was released by kidnappers believed to be affiliated with a local Mexican drug cartel.
Ortiz, who operates five migrant shelters in northern Mexico, was kidnapped at approximately 6:00 PM on June 6 in Nuevo Laredo along with 15 other hostages from one of the shelters he runs.
Cartel members initially demanded a $40,000 ransom payment. However, by the end of the order all victims were realized unharmed, no ransom had been paid, and cartel members left two new tires to replace tires slashed during the kidnapping.
During a 45-minute video recording with Cameron Vickrey, director of communication and development for Fellowship Southwest Baptist Church, and Elket Rodriguez, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, he describes his ordeal.
When asked by abductors how much he charged each migrant family for assistance, he responded that he was a pastor and “we do this for free.”
Refusing to believe Ortiz was telling the truth. He invited his kidnappers to look through his cellphone. He told cartel members, “If you find just one person that I charged a dollar … If you find one call where I was talking to somebody about money or any extortion, then you can pull the trigger if you want.”
Believing Ortiz to be a rich man competing with the business interests of the cartel which charges migrants moving through their territory for services, they took Ortiz up on his offer with every intention to kill him.
Ortiz said, “They wanted to know if I was cutting into [their] business.”
Because of Ortiz’s reputation in the community for his humanitarian work, authorities responded quickly with great force. The Mexican National Guard, regional authorities and local law enforcement all responded to the scene of the abduction.
Even a rival cartel sought to help negotiate Ortiz release citing that he was not a threat or competition.
With helicopters circling overhead and armed military personnel in the streets, the cartel became frightened.
“The cartel was shaken. … The cartel never felt so vulnerable,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz began ministering to local migrants in Nuevo Laredo three years ago. Acknowledging the danger of his work, he described himself as “a lamb among wolves,” referring to the cartels. However, assured by a sense of call to this ministry, during the kidnapping Ortiz recalled having a confidence in knowing that “God was going to be there.”
Safely released, Ortiz is now back to continue his ministry and hopes to use the increased notoriety gained from the incident to promote the cause of migrants.
Source: Baptist Standard