Would you know what to do if you were taken as a hostage?
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An Expert Weighs in on Evolving Escape and Evasion Tactics

The subject of escape and evasion is everywhere now. One can find it featured in print and in online videos, and there are even entire blogs, podcasts and websites dedicated to the subject. In addition, escape and evasion seminars take place all over the world — there is no shortage of information on the topic.

Unique Restraints

Home invasions, abductions and people traveling to places where forced disappearances are an everyday occurrence have motivated droves of people to seek out training in various methodologies, the basis of which is often escaping from various bondage elements and restraints. This material most commonly focuses on defeating handcuffs. Wether made of duct tape, wire, wrapping plastic and zip ties — some of which has become somewhat dated. It should be noted, that while handcuffs are still sometimes used, more secure and sophisticated restraints are now being utilized.

Like anything else in this world, methodology evolves. Criminals have the same access to information about escape and evasion techniques that the rest of the world does, and they have adapted their tactics accordingly. Personally, I have seen cases in which abductors have added countermeasures to some of the bondage elements they use. 

Ed's Manifesto tools to escape and evade.
Photo by Eds Manifesto

Improvised Cuffs

For example: the classic zip ties. Criminals, realizing how victims can use their own bodies to break them, making this a costly endeavor. Experienced captors will cut zip tie pieces at an angle and add them to the interior ring of the cuff. Once tightened, these jagged points penetrate the victims’ wrists, making even the slightest movement extremely painful. In some cases opening a gushing wound if one attempts to force them off by breaking them. We have found these modified ties used particularly in cases where crews have been active in the “abduction for ransom” game for a very long time. They call them “vampiros” (vampires) in Mexico.

Until now, such information has not yet been widely seen, but I am sharing it with you so that you can get an idea of the effect the Information Age has had on criminal methodology, and how this has prompted a very twisted evolution in the darker corners of the world. Examples of this evolution even include a host of full-incapacitation methods being used by captors now, from drugs to mutilations. 

Application

What does all this mean though?

Step one is to realize that there are criminals out there refining what they do. They are watching the same things you are currently watching online. They are building countermeasures into their restraint techniques, specifically relating to irregular custody situations. 

I believe that preparing for these types of threats needs to be on the “essentials list” for travelers . From criminal organizations to terrorists, each region’s groups have their own modus operandi and motivations for doing what they do. So why prepare for an abduction situation in the Western world where handcuffs or zip ties might be an issue, when you are heading to Central Africa where wire and cordage is a greater threat as far as bondage elements are concerned? 

Just like survival training specific to jungles, mountains or deserts, we should prepare for the possible, train for the probable, and study the current evolution of the threats that are out there.

Do your homework before you pack.

Keep safe, stay free and always be dangerous.

Ed Calderon of Ed’s Manifesto is a frequent contributor to Skillset Magazine. Check out his article on a counternarcotics agent in Mexico, or buy a back issue at OutdoorGroupStore.com. You can also listen to our interview with Ed on Skillset Live! Stay Motivated.

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