Taipei-Police in Miaoli announced on Monday the arrest of suspected members of a criminal ring believed to have kidnapped racing pigeons and held them for ransom.
The arrests were made after a seven-month investigation following a tip in February. A total of 14 suspects, including a man surnamed Hsiao who is believed to be the leader of the ring, were taken into custody in raids across Taiwan on Oct. 1.
The group allegedly colluded with drivers, who drove the pigeons to designated areas for training, to work out which routes the birds would fly.They would then slingshot lead bullets tied with red ribbons to scare the pigeons into diving downwards, capturing them with nets, and then call the owners demanding ransoms ranging from NT$6000 to NT$12,000 per bird, according to police.
If the owners failed to pay up, the group would kill the bird or cut its wings. At least 40 owners are believed to have fallen victim to the scheme, the police said.
According to preliminary reports from the police, the nets were mainly set up in mountainous areas of central Taiwan, including Miaoli County's Sanyi and Dahu townships, as well as Dakeng village and Xinshe District in Taichung. The group also scattered nails and erected animal traps near the nets to prevent police from discovering their operation.
During the raids police seized a total of NT$103,800 in cash, as well as passbooks, ATM cards, nets and knives. Three pigeons kidnapped by the group were also recovered, and are awaiting retrieval by their owners.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel