Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Break Up Kidnapping Ring

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia -- Police in southern Russia have broken up a criminal gang that was kidnapping elderly people, alcoholics, drug addicts and others and forcing them to sign over their apartments, an official said Sunday.

The kidnapping gang had managed to amass more than 20 apartments worth 15 million rubles ($478,000) in the course of a year, said Sergei Yeromin, a prosecutor for the Astrakhan region.

Astrakhan is on the Volga River and not far from the oil-rich Caspian Sea.

Yeromin said the gang targeted people who lived alone, without relatives who might report their disappearance.

Police arrested several gang members on the outskirts of Astrakhan, where the victims were being held captive, Yeromin said.

Astrakhan authorities were searching for other victims and are investigating whether some of them might have been killed by their captors, he said.