When two men snatched a 7-year-old boy at gunpoint from a drug-plagued Philadelphia neighborhood this summer, they hoped to get $250,000 in ransom, reports the Associated Press. The plan unraveled when the captors saw the youngster’s father with police. They let the boy go unharmed two hours later. The quarter-million-dollar ransom may seem high, but police say drug gangs can demand huge sums after kidnapping a rival or a dealer’s girlfriend or child. “When you bring these drug dealers in, they say there clearly is that kind of money out there,” Lt. John Walker said. “There’s a lot of cash out there on the street.”
While police investigate only a small number of such cases each year, they believe many more go unreported by victims who don’t want to call attention to their own illegal pursuits. “You don’t have a good handle on how many times it happens, though we know they do because folks come in and tell us about it later,” said FBI agent Vito Roselli, who investigated the case of 7-year-old girl whose escape from a summer 2002 kidnapping riveted the city.