THE three Icacos fishermen kidnapped by Venezuelans off the coast of Icacos have been released after a US$30,000 ransom was paid.
The men, Keith "Talo" Schneider, 60; Ramkissoon Harricharan, 64; and a Venezuelan identified as Amelto, returned home last night. They had gone out to fish at about dawn on Tuesday off the coast of Icacos but were accosted by Spanish-speaking men.
Their boat engine was seized.
The pirogue was spotted by other TT fishermen drifting at about 7 am on Tuesday.
Schneider, Harricharan and Amelto were taken to the Venezuelan mainland. They telephoned their relatives later in the day to say their captors had demanded US$10,000.
Cedros police reported that family members said the sum was then increased to US$30,000. Relatives said they had raised the money and arrangements were finalised yesterday to take the money to the mainland.
A relative of Schneider, who requested anonymity, told Newsday, "My brother told us that they threatened to kill them. Once we heard that, we knew we had to get the money.
He said the abductors did not hurt the men, "except that they slap them up a few times.
"They took the boat engine and empty the vessel.
On the increased ransom, he said, "We had to struggle to raise the money. When the money was paid, my brother and the two other guys were released."
Criticising the Coast Guard, he said they failed to respond on time, though they knew about the robbery at about 6.30 am on Tuesday.
"The Coast Guard is a sleeping giant. Imagine, there is a coast guard office in Cedros, but no boat."