"Taipei - Two Taiwan men have been arrested after being accused of extorting money from racing pigeon owners and using pigeons to pick up the ransoms, a newspaper reported Thursday.
Chung Jung-chi, 46, and Bao Wen-chin, 39, were arrested Wednesday in Taoyuan County in northern Taiwan for allegedly kidnapping nearly 100 racing pigeons and extorting almost 1 million Taiwan dollars (30,000 US dollars), the China Times reported.
Chung, who also raised racing pigeons and had incurred debts from gambling, and Bao, a casino security guard, were accused of erecting nets beginning in November in mountains along the route of racing pigeons to catch the birds, the paper said.
Phone numbers taped to the birds' feet allowed the owners to be called and ransom demanded.
The pigeon owners were told to deliver money to a paper box with a racing pigeon inside. They were ordered to place the money in a plastic tube attached to the pigeon's leg and release the bird, which then flew to Chung's home.
The pigeon could only carry notes worth 15,000 Taiwan dollars on each mission, so sometimes the pigeon would have to be dispatched several times to pick up the ransom.
Police said they caught up with Chung and Bao after Chung began demanding larger ransoms and ordering his victims to wire money into his bank account.