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American manager of popular Acapulco hotel reportedly kidnapped

December 11, 1997

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) _ Gunmen posing as federal police kidnapped the American manager of the Princess, one of Acapulco’s leading hotels, state and police officials said Wednesday. A police officer was killed and another was wounded in a shootout that ensued.

Ten heavily armed men dressed in the black uniforms of the federal police intercepted Vincent Carrozza’s car Tuesday morning near the hotel, said Hector Omar Maganda of the Guerrero state district attorney’s office.

Lt. Col. Marcos Roman Baena, the Guerrero State judicial police chief, said Carrozza is believed to be a 52-year-old New Jersey native who had been living in Acapulco and working in the tourism industry for more than 20 years.

But a spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said it had no information on the case, and did not know Carrozza’s hometown.

As the kidnappers forced Carrozza into their truck, a passing police squad gave chase, Maganda said. The bank police opened fire, and the kidnappers fired back.

Deputy commander Jose Martinez Manriquez was fatally shot in the head and neck, Maganda said. Another officer shot in the lungs was hospitalized in serious condition.

The Princess is one of the top five hotels in this Pacific beach resort, popular with American and Canadian tourists.

Dozens of kidnappings take place in Mexico every year. Relatives and friends of victims usually refuse to notify police or file a complaint for fear of reprisal.

There have also been many cases in which police or former officers were found to be in collusion with criminals.

Executives at the Princess said they were not aware of Carrozza’s abduction.

``All I know is that the gentleman (Carrozza) is traveling,″ Etelvina Rios, assistant manager at the Princess, said in a telephone interview.

She also said she did not know of any shootout.

Baena said police backed by army troops were combing the state in search of Carrozza and the kidnappers but had found nothing.

``We are doing this even though no formal complaint has been filed on the kidnapping,″ he told a news conference.

Under Mexico’s antiquated laws, a formal complaint must be filed before authorities can take action. Baena said the state police are acting because the police officer was killed, which provides a legal authorization.

Baena said there was no indication that the crime was drug-related.

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