Bob Meek, CEO of Utah Onions Inc. in Syracuse, UT, is safe at home following an 18-hour incident Sept. 8 and 9 in which he was held against his will in a hotel room in Mexico.
Meek was traveling on business and stressed that the situation, termed a “virtual kidnapping,” was unrelated to the produce industry.
“Mexico is a great place with great people, but like everywhere there are bad eggs,” he said.
As reported in Utah media and confirmed by Meek, the incident began in Mexico on Thursday, Sept. 8, during the evening hours and continued into Friday afternoon.
“I was held against my will for a span of about 18 hours,” he said. “Thankfully I was released and returned home without any harm. Appropriate investigations are ongoing with local Mexican authorities, and we are fully cooperating with these investigations.”
Meek said his captors used telephone communication during the incident, letting him know they had had him under their surveillance.
During the ordeal, Meek said he was instructed by the men to leave his room and go to a nearby store and purchase a disposable phone.
After his release, Meek said he was able to fly home to Utah. He was quoted as saying he was fine physically, but that “emotionally, this is a tender time.” And he thanked the community for prayer and support, saying, “My rescue was a community effort,” he said. “It reaches across all lines. There were thousands who were praying for us, spanning all faiths, and I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Meek said the incident in no way affects the “strong and productive partnerships with our customers, growers and distributors in Mexico and other locations outside of the U.S.” He continued, “Utah Onion is grateful for the many partners who help deliver our exceptional products around the world.