Police confirm Ramos alive

Police confirm Ramos alive
November 10, 2011, 1:24 pm
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Updated at 4:15 p.m.
Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos, who was abducted from his home last night by four armed gunmen, is alive, the Venezuelan intelligence police confirmed this afternoon.

Ramos has not been found, however, and his captors have not contacted his family, according to multiple reports from outlets and friends in Venezuela. Police do have sketches of two of the perpetrators.

Tareck El Aissami, minister of interior and justice, told Venezuelan television stations the van believed to have been used to kidnap Ramos was discovered in the town of Bejuma, about an hour's drive west of his home outside the city of Valencia.

Kathe Vilera, spokeswoman for Ramos' Venezuelan team, confirmed the discovery of the van but said the kidnappers still had not contacted his family nearly 17 hours after the abduction took place.

"At this time the situation remains the same," Vilera posted on her Twitter account. "The kidnappers have not communicated with the family of Wilson Ramos."

It's not known if the abductors have contacted anyone outside of Ramos' family.

The Nationals and Major League Baseball issued a joint statement this afternoon:

"Our foremost concern is with Wilson Ramos and his family and our thoughts are with them at this time. Major League Baseball's Department of Investigations is working with the appropriate authorities on this matter. Both Major League Baseball and the Washington Nationals have been instructed to make no further comment."

Nervous members of the organization and their fans awoke this morning hoping for some positive news regarding Ramos. Unfortunately, there were few significant developments overnight as authorities attempted to gather information.

El Aissami told Venezuelan TV station Globovision as soon as he had heard of the crime, he designated an investigatory commission headed by experts in kidnapping, amongst them the vice-director of Venezuela's national police agency: Luis Roberto Karabin.

"Yesterday we contacted the families, we've been conversing with his sister and parents to show our solidarity and our commitment to, in a responsible manner, provide answers for this terrible act," El Aissami said.

"For the family and all the country, I should say that we are committed to this investigation with everything, and without holding back efforts or resources."

Meanwhile, the president of the Venezuelan winter league told local television stations this morning there are no plans currently to suspend or cancel previously scheduled ballgames. All four games on the league's slate, including one featuring Ramos' Aragua club, were played last night. There are three more games scheduled for tonight.

"Suspending any ballgames will not help Wilson Ramos at all," league president Jose Grasso said. "Turning the lights off is not a solution."

The league issued a longer statement this afternoon:

"The LVBP condemns and profoundly laments the kidnapping of Wilson Ramos, player for the Tigres de Aragua. This act has caused great consternation nationally, especially for those who follow Venezuelan baseball.

"We hope that this incident has a positive outcome for Wilson Ramos and his family. For them, we give our prayers to god and we exhort the authorities as strongly as possible to carry out every investigation necessary and to resolve this as quickly as possible.

"We join in the national outrage, and specifically the outrage of baseball fans -- who in Venezuela are a majority -- in stating that deeds of this nature and any criminal event no longer occur in this country.

"We express our solidarity to Wilson Ramos' entire family, to his teammates on Tigres, to his friends and we extend our solidarity to MLB where the young Venezuelan has had a great start to his career.

"We send our prayers and hopeful thoughts for the freedom of Wilson Ramos."

Several other players in the Nationals organization are in Venezuela, including major leaguers Jesus Flores and Henry Rodriguez. Flores started and played all nine innings last night for Magallanes.

Ramos is believed to be the first active major-league player kidnapped, though several family members of players have been victims in recent years. In most cases, they returned home safely, usually in a matter of days.

The unusual, and high-profile, nature of this event has made it a story far beyond the sports world.

"We are certainly aware of the case and monitoring it closely," Deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said during an afternoon news conference. "We have not had any contact with the family or Major League Baseball as of yet. He's not a U.S. citizen. He is, I believe, a green card holder. It's obviously of great concern to us. We did cite, in our country-specific information, the very real dangers of kidnapping and violent crime in Venezuela. And we condemn these kinds of violent acts. We stand by to help, in any way possible, the family if they contact us."