Sniffer dogs brought in as hunt for Luis Diaz's dad closes in on gang's jungle lair after Liverpool star breaks silence | The Sun

Sniffer dogs brought in as hunt for Luis Diaz's dad closes in on gang's jungle lair after Liverpool star breaks silence | The Sun

November 1, 2023

SNIFFER dogs have been brought in by Colombian police as they close in on the location of Liverpool star Luis Diaz's kidnapped dad.

Authorities leading the search believe the lair of the kidnapping gang is located in the hospitable jungle terrain of the Perija Mountains on the Colombia-Venezuela border.

Two German Shepherd dogs called Laticha and Tekila have now joined the hunt and Colombian police chiefs say more will be introduced as they close in on Luis Manuel Diaz's captors.

The dogs are said to have been trained in detecting the smell of clothes, suggesting they have already been exposed to the scent of Diaz's father.

The country’s army have already been joined by an elite police anti-drugs commando squad specialising in complex jungle operations to find the 58-year-old.

Now, Colombian National Police director William Rene Salamanca Ramirez has now confirmed the incorporation of the animals to the search.

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He said: “There are two dogs with their guides.

“Tekila and Leticha join the search to extend the capabilities the government has established with the police and military to locate the father of Luis Diaz.

“We are initiating this activity now and more dogs will come to help us in this search.”

He added: “These dogs have participated in important rescue operations in several places, including the jungle. That’s why they’re here.”

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Local media are reporting police intelligence experts have identified seven key sites as part of an operation to stop the captors reaching Venezuela with their hostage.

It is understood the hunt is focusing on the banks of rivers and streams in the inhospitable Perija Mountains – on the basis the gang need to be near water to survive.

Fears had been mounting after Saturday’s kidnap, in which Diaz's mum Cilenis Maralunda was also abducted before being rescued hours later, that the criminal gang had already reached Venezuela.

But yesterday, General Salamanca said he was confident they were still in Colombia after choppering in elite counter-narcotics commanders to hunt them down.

He insisted: “The information we have is that they are still in Colombian territory but the search is continuing.”

Local reports say Luis Manuel’s captors are believed to be on foot, having dumped the motorbikes they used to evade capture on Saturday.

A reward of up to 200million Colombian pesos, around £40,000, has been offered by the authorities for any information.

On Tuesday afternoon, relatives, friends and well-wishers took to the streets of Barrancas, in the border region of La Guajira, to demand the liberation of "Mane".

It prompted Liverpool forward Diaz, who has been advised to stay in England, to break his public silence following Saturday’s kidnap of his parents.

In a social media post, Diaz urged people to join the march shortly before it started.

Alongside a picture of promotional poster, he said: “Take your candle to ignite the light of hope.”

The march began at 5pm local time and finished at the home of Diaz’s parents.

Locals decked out shopfronts with white balloons and prepared banners ahead of the protest.

They read: "No Al Secuestro" and "Liberenlo Ya" – "No To Kidnap" and "Free Him Now".

Many children took part in the march holding up white balloons and wearing Colombian tops with Luis Diaz’s name and shirt number on it.

A local armed with a loudspeaker asked the crowd of protestors: “What does Barrancas demand for Mane Diaz?”.

He received the rapturous reply: "Libertad, Libertad, Libertad" (Freedom, Freedom, Freedom).

Human Rights' officials in Colombia have also urged the kidnappers to use their “humanitarian channels” to facilitate the swift release of Diaz’s father.

The country’s Ombudsman Carlos Camargo called on the captors to respect his “integrity and life” as he begged them to contact regional assistants to find a way to resolve the dramatic situation.

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“We reiterate the call to the captors of the father of our beloved soccer player 'Lucho' Díaz: respect his integrity and life'" Mr Camargo said.

“We also make another call to you: contact our regional human rights’ defence teams to find a route that permits his prompt release, safe and sound.”

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