Moment millionaire British businessman is rescued by police after terrifying kidnap ordeal by gunmen in Ecuador

20 December 2023, 09:29 | Updated: 20 December 2023, 13:17

The millionaire has been rescued.
The millionaire has been rescued. Picture: Social media

By Emma Soteriou

A millionaire British businessman has been rescued by cops after being kidnapped by gunmen in Ecuador.

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Colin Armstrong, 78, was dragged from his home on Saturday morning and taken captive.

Mr Armstrong, who was the honorary British consul in the city of Guayaquil, was taken along with Katherine Paola Santos - his girlfriend.

The kidnapping was understood to have happened around 2.45am local time on Saturday morning at Mr Armstrong's ranch Rancho Rodeo Grande.

British intelligence services are reported to be assisting Ecuadorian police in the search for Mr Armstrong
British intelligence services are reported to be assisting Ecuadorian police in the search for Mr Armstrong. Picture: Instagram

He was bundled into one of his own black BMWs with his partner, with the car later being found abandoned near the scene.

Ms Santos then reappeared at Mr Armstrong's son's house on Tuesday wearing a bomb vest.

She reportedly said the vest would explode if a ransom was not paid.

A bomb disposal team quickly attended the scene, with footage emerging showing police removing the vest said to have been 'filled with explosives'.

Read more: Millionaire British businessman kidnapped by gunmen in Ecuador as police question his girlfriend

The incident sparked a police investigation, with British intelligence having been brought in to help hunt the couple down.

Mr Armstrong was allegedly targeted by a cartel after refusing to pay protection money.

"It's the most likely reason for the kidnapping at this point," a source told the Telegraph.

Nine suspects have since been arrested.

Ecuador's police chief, Cesar Augusto Zapata, confirmed that Mr Armstrong had been found, saying: "On the road to #Manabí, our units RELEASED citizen Collin A., kidnapped days before in #LosRíos.

"At the moment he is safe and healthy. There are 9 arrested."

The couple on holiday together
The couple on holiday together. Picture: Social media

A family friend also confirmed that Mr Armstrong had been released.

In a statement to MailOnline family friend Leo Morris said: "We can confirm that Mr Colin Armstrong has successfully been released and is currently with the police having interviews and then will be returning to his Family in Ecuador," Leo Morris said in a statement to MailOnline.

"All of the UK family, staff and friends are delighted with the outcome and look forward to a happier Christmas.

"We have no further news at present."

Mr Armstrong is the founder and owner of an agricultural company, Agripac, and owner of the Tupgill Park Estate in North Yorkshire.

He was awarded the OBE and Companions of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to the British Monarchy in 2011.

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