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Football Goalkeeper Suspect in Mexican Kidnapping Ring

Suspended first-division soccer goalkeeper Omar 'El Gato' Ortiz, arrested for alleged participation in a kidnapping ring, is guarded by state police during a presentation to the press in Monterrey, Mexico, January 7, 2012.

Mexican officials say an international football (soccer) goalie has been arrested for his alleged involvement in a kidnapping ring.

Officials say Omar Ortiz, also known as "El Gato," - "The Cat" - was arrested last week with three other suspected members of the ring.

Officials say Ortiz has been under suspicion since he tested positive for steroids in April of 2010, and was suspended from playing for Rayados of Monterrey. The suspension was to be lifted in a few months.

The Associated Press says Ortiz and the other suspects have been charged with four abductions, but may have been involved in nearly two dozen. The gang is reported to have demanded $72,000 for each victim.

Officials say kidnapping rings likely represent an expansion of drug gangs.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has made rooting out drug gangs a priority of his administration, beginning with a crackdown on cartels shortly after taking office in 2006.

Authorities say more than 46,000 people have been killed in drug related violence since crackdown began.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.