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Under mysterious circumstances, Tijuana kidnap victim Georgina Romero de Crespo was released last week, a day after the Reader wrote about her monthlong disappearance, and is safe at her home in the Coronado Cays. No arrests have been made. "I think it is a little bit difficult to talk about this," says her mother, Georgina Serrano de Romero, "except she's back safely." According to Tijuana's El Mexicano newspaper: "Details of Georgina Romero's release are not known. Nor is the ransom amount, although during the kidnap police sources had indicated that the amount demanded by the kidnappers was around $3 million." Though she wouldn't provide a figure, Romero's mother says the family didn't pay that much. "Three million? Of course not! We don't have that money. I think it's very [irresponsible] that anyone can [claim] it was an amount like this. As I told [Tijuana's weekly] Zeta, we are not such a rich family. We work, we represent interests from several parts of the Mexican Republic. We are in a [situation] where our [affluence] could be seen as more than it is." Serrano says she doesn't feel her family is part of the "aristocracy" of San Diego. "We just don't have the level to be in that [social] position," she says. Both Baja California's state kidnap unit and San Diego's FBI authorities confirmed that they had been asked to "back off" from the investigation, presumably because the family wanted to deal directly with Romero's kidnappers. U.S. News and World Report claims that kidnaps are growing south of the border. The magazine says that in Mexico, kidnapping is "said to be a $60 million annual industry." K&R (kidnapping and ransom) insurance has mushroomed into a $150 million-a-year specialty.

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