EDITOR’S NOTE; A previous version of this story cited the app allegedly used to target the professor. The Mayor of Medellin has named the app, but Global News has not been able to independently verify this with prosecutors.
Three women and one man have been arrested in the death of a Canadian professor in Colombia, in a case officials say hinges on social media, drugs and a kidnapping ring targeting foreigners.
Ramazan “Ramo” Gencay, 57, was last seen in a salsa club in Medellín on Dec. 6, 2018.
The Colombian Attorney General’s office said Gencay’s body was found 20 days later in “a skeletal state” in a rural area of San Sebastian de Palmitas.
In an email, Gencay’s wife Carol said her husband was a victim.
“We returned Ramo his dignity by giving a proper goodbye & Celebration of Life. A victim of such indignity deserves to have dignity recovered & maintained,” she said.
“The indignity he suffered was being treated as a COMMODITY, after being poisoned with a drug in his drink at a pizzeria, then led to a car, forced with more drugs, then dumped. ”
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According to the Medellín Mayor’s Office, Gencay fell victim to a criminal gang that preyed on men looking for companionship by using a popular social media app.
Gencay had allegedly met a woman through the app, who later drugged him with benzodiazepine and kidnapped him, the office said.
Surveillance footage showed Gencay dining with a woman at a local restaurant the day before his disappearance; that same woman was later seen with another woman carrying Gencay from a bar into a waiting vehicle, the mayor’s office said.
Prosecutors allege an accomplice was waiting in the vehicle.
It’s believed Gencay had initially been given five benzodiazepine pills which reacted strongly with alcohol he’d consumed, according to information released by the mayor’s office. He was allegedly given another 10 pills once inside the vehicle, which led to a fatal overdose, the mayor’s office said.
Prosecutors say while Gencay was missing, his bank accounts were allegedly drained by the suspects.
While making the arrests, prosecutors said that police seized more than 30 credit cards, benzodiazepine pills and cash from Canada, Peru, and the United States.
The mayor’s office said the gang’s leader was arrested ahead of a planned trip to Cartagena, leading officials to believe the gang may have extended its scheme outside of the region.
A Spanish citizen who was also allegedly targeted by the gang and survived being drugged is expected to return to Colombia to identify the suspects.
The attorney general’s office said the suspects will face charges of aggravated conspiracy, simple aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated and qualified theft.
Gencay, an economics professor and author was in Colombia’s second-largest city to speak at a local university.
His family said Gencay was an experienced traveller who enjoyed hiking, salsa dancing, and competing in ultra-marathons.
-With files from Jon Azpiri