The mysterious online criminal gang behind the kidnapping of a 20-year-old British model has boasted of its “generosity” in letting her go — because she is a mother.
Police say the victim, who came forward this weekend and identified herself as Chloe Ayling, was lured by a group calling itself “Black Death” to an abandoned shop near Milan’s Central Station. She was told that there would be a photo shoot. Instead, she was allegedly handcuffed, put in a suitcase, and stuffed into a car trunk before being driven 120 miles to a farmhouse in Turin where she was held captive for six days, and allegedly drugged with ketamine.
At a sensational police press conference in Milan, her captor was named as Polish-born Lukasz Herba, 30, who is accused of trying to sell Ayling on the internet for 300,000 Euros through Bitcoin. When officers arrested him, he was found in possession of a pamphlet on Black Death, which offers the sexual services of women for auction on the dark web.A note was found addressed to the victim saying she was being released due to the “huge generosity” of the group, and stated that due to her “status as a young mother,” her kidnapping was a mistake.
The Italian police posted photographs of the home where the kidnapping took place and a reconstructed image showing how the victim was crammed into a suitcase (above).
The victim claimed that the gang decided to release her after her captors — who have a strict rule against kidnapping mothers — realized that her Instagram feed contained photos of her with her one-year-old son.
“After a few minutes, a man came back in the room with his face uncovered, (the Polish man) and he said to me in English that their boss was furious, as they had captured the wrong person,” Ayling told Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.
“I shouldn’t have been caught, as their boss had seen some of my Instagram photos where it was clear that I’m a mom with a child, and that’s against the organization, which operates on the deep web dealing with various crimes, from drug dealing to hits; auctions for kidnapped girls apparently start at $300,000 worth of Bitcoin.”
Italian police say that Ayling’s kidnapper took her to the British consulate, and they were able to apprehend him as he was leaving.
Little is known about the Black Death criminal syndicate, which is rumored to have been set up in 1994. The pamphlet police found on Herba said they operate in such sketchy areas as bombing, drug dealing, human trafficking, and arms dealing.
Authorities are searching for at least one other accomplice, and the investigation continues.
Main photo: Photo of crime reconstruction with suitcase [Polizia di Stato]