Star Mexican soccer player Alan Pulido has been rescued after being kidnapped in the crime-ridden northern border state of Tamaulipas, Mexican authorities said Monday.
The rescue took place after midnight on Monday, according to press accounts quoting officials in Ciudad Victoria, the state capital, where the player had been abducted about 24 hours earlier.
Pulido was not believed to have suffered any major injury but was undergoing a medical evaluation. In a brief appearance before the press, he wore a multicolored tank top and had a bandage on his right hand.
"I'm well, thank God," Pulido said in comments to the Mexican media.Officials offered no immediate explanation for the apparent injury to his hand.
Pulido — who plays professionally in Greece and was a member of Mexico's 2014 World Cup squad in Brazil — was abducted while visiting Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas state and his birth place. Tampaulipas borders southern Texas and is home to an array of criminal gangs.
The state attorney general, Ismael Quintanilla, confirmed to local media that Pulido had been abducted, apparently after leaving a party in the predawn hours Sunday in Ciudad Victoria.
The Mexican news outlet Milenio, paraphrasing the state prosecutor, reported that "armed" assailants cut off Pulido after he left the party.
It is unclear if the soccer star was in a vehicle or on foot when he was waylaid or if anyone else was with him. Some unconfirmed reports in the Mexican media indicated that he was accompanied by his girlfriend, but that she was not taken.
The prosecutor also denied rumors that Pulido had been in touch with his family since his abduction.
State and federal police, along with the military, were involved in the manhunt for Pulido, authorities said. The search extended to U.S. territory, according to local media accounts.
Authorities provided few additional details. It was not clear if any ransom was demanded or what the motive was for the player's abduction.
Tamaulipas, one of Mexico's most violent states, is a major smuggling route for illegal drugs destined for the United States and home of rival cartels.
The kidnapping came a week before hotly disputed local and gubernatorial elections in Tamaulipas, where allegations have swirled linking some candidates to drug trafficking.
Criminal gangs have long been involved in kidnap-for-ransom schemes in Mexico. Victims include both average people picked up in opportunistic attacks and wealthy Mexicans targeted in well-planned operations.
Pulido, 25, is currently a forward for the Olympiacos professional club team in Greece. He previously played for the Tigres club in Monterrey, Mexico.
Pulido was not included on the roster for the Copa America tournament that begins next month in the United States, featuring national teams from throughout the Americas.
As word of his kidnapping spread, social media were overflowing with comments from fans, ex-teammates and others expressing solidarity with Pulido and his family, along with hopes that he would soon be set free safely.
Cecilia Sanchez of The Times' Mexico City bureau contributed.
5/30 7:51 a.m.: Updated with staff reporting
11:55 p.m.: Updated to reflect that Pulido was found.
8:30 p.m.: Updated throughout with additional information from authorities.
9:47 a.m.: Updated with details of the player's career.