Three people have been jailed in Colombia on charges that they kidnapped and killed a Hmong American comic and activist. According to the investigators, the victim was found dead near Medellín after going out to meet a woman he had supposedly encountered on social media.

Three people were detained on Thursday by Colombian police in relation to the abduction and murder of Hmong American comedian and activist Tou Ger Xiong. According to reports, Xiong met a lady on social media and was subsequently discovered dead not far from Medellín. According to the prosecutor’s office, two men and a woman are accused with aggravated murder in connection with the death of the 50-year-old last month, as well as aggravated abduction for extortion. A kid who admitted to being involved in the crime was also charged and sent to a special juvenile prison facility after the accused refuted the allegations at a hearing.

One week before, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota had sent out a warning about Colombian criminals using dating apps to trick and injure victims. In the latter two months of 2023, they reported eight suspected US citizen fatalities in Medellín, some of which included online dating applications.

Xiong was a Hmong American comedian who was well-known for utilising comedy to confront racial injustice, according to the Bush Foundation.

Xiong came to Medellín on November 29 as a tourist. Less than 12 days later, he was killed in the Robledo area northwest of the city. His body showed signs of violence, and a report from the Colombian forensic science centre said he died from injuries caused by a hard object.

The Prosecutor’s Office put together the events again and found that Xiong was held against his will in an apartment in Robledo on the night of December 10. The people who had him captive tied him up, beat him, tortured him, and stole his credit cards, mobile, cash, and a watch. The kidnappers asked Xiong’s family and a friend in the U.S. for a large amount of money, which they duly sent to a woman’s account for $3,140.

Investigators say that after the payment, Xiong was taken to a wooded area and beaten more before being thrown off an 80-meter-high cliff on December 11. A lawyer said that Sharit Gisela Mejía Martínez, who owned the PayPal account that was linked to the transaction, tried to escape through a window when police came to ask her. After the tragedy, Xiong’s family talked about how much pain their loss caused them. Xiong was born in Laos in 1973. After the communists took over in 1975, his family fled to Thailand because his father was in a U.S.-backed Hmong military force. In 2020, the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote about how they moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, which has the biggest Hmong group in the United States. They had spent four years in a refugee camp in Thailand.

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