April 17th, 2009
04:30 PM ET

An American held for ransom – and tortured

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/04/17/art.george.and.andrea.jpg caption="George Norman Harrison and his daughter, Andrea."]
Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer

Gary Tuchman and I were in Tijuana last month covering a story on the drug war and the way it has impacted tourism when we heard about a gruesome discovery. 3 bodies were found just minutes from the US border next to a Tijuana bull ring. The bodies were missing heads, arms and legs and a note was attached with the word “snitches.” Turns out, one of those bodies was a 38-year-old American who had been living in Tijuana.

George Norman Harrison is described by his family as a loving man who loved Mexico and the Mexican people. He was born and raised in San Diego County, but lived in Tijuana, Mexico just south of the U.S. border for 13 years. He loved Harley Davidson motorcycles and owned 2 pizza shops in Tijuana calling them Harley’s Pizza. His employees describe him as a great boss, his friends describe him as a hard working, honest man, his family describes him as a loving, caring person, but law enforcement in Mexico say he was connected to the drug cartels, but could offer no evidence as to what those connections were.

On Feb 3rd, 3 men kidnapped him while he was working in one of his pizza shops. His family and friends would never see him again. His family says he was held for ransom, with the kidnappers asking for 1 million dollars. The family says when kidnappers realized they didn’t have the means to come up with the cash, the ransom was lowered to 100 thousand dollars. It took them time to raise the money and had to make more than one payment to the kidnappers. The family says kidnappers delivered 2 of Harrison’s severed fingers to his home to keep pressure on the family to come up with the money.

On the day a second payment was made, George Harrison’s lifeless, beheaded body was found.

We talked with family members who were negotiating with the kidnappers and struggled do deal with Harrison’s brutal murder.

Gary Tuchman has the story tonight on AC360.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Crime & Punishment • Ismael Estrada • Mexico • The Buzz
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Creekredman

    What a terrible waste. Such a beautiful family. This goes on while far Left wing Americans are worrying about water boarding, sleep deprivation,. Where is this man and other men and women's civil rights. Where is the outcry? Same place the outcry is for all the men, women, and soldiers tortured, and beheaded in Iraq. In the crapper. If you are not a socialist, communist, fascist, you are not human and may not be considered such. Welcome to Anderson Cooper and Jeannie Gargafalo's America. We are all so proud.

    April 17, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  2. Terry, TX

    I've got a better one for you.....how about American businessmen in McAllen Texas being kidnapped, brutalized on the phone to their wives until ransom pays. Never reported because the local US law enforcement is contaminated. Sherrif Guerra, Starr County was arrested a few months ago for informing the cartel of Homeland Security operations...his office is in Rio Grande City, TX.

    April 17, 2009 at 7:31 pm |
  3. Terry, TX

    On no....do we put President Calderon on trial....it happened on his watch....torturing and beheading on his watch with probably law enforcement in on it......and if we catch one of them and he is extradited guess what Mexico won't let us give him the death penalty...they won't approve the extradition if the death penalty is on the table. But let's blame Bush. Anybody catching the sarcasm here.

    April 17, 2009 at 7:26 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    What a terrible ending to this family's ordeal. I can not even imagine the anguish and horror they have gone through. I send them my condolences and best wishes and I will be watching Gary tonight tell their story.

    April 17, 2009 at 6:58 pm |
  5. Kylie

    "Turns out", 2 of those bodies weren't American and so are barely acknowledged.

    It's a horrible story and I'm very sad for all those families affected.

    But really, it seems by this story that it's newsworthy because an American citizen was a victim. 1 out of 3 victims. If that 1 out of 3 wasn't American, would the story have been reported?

    Atrocities and injustices are just that. Regardless of the nationality of those involved.

    April 17, 2009 at 5:40 pm |
  6. Eliana Borja

    This happened to our brother...

    This sh** has to stop

    April 17, 2009 at 5:33 pm |
  7. J B

    After reading this recent article about George Harrison I have to wonder why anyone from the US would even consider traveling or spending any money down in Mexico. What an atrocity, the poor family of George. What a terrible shame for them to have to deal with such losers with skin, what a waste of oxygen. If the Mexican government cannot control these hooligans we have no business contributing to any of their welfare. Keep everything about Mexico including your illegals!

    April 17, 2009 at 5:24 pm |
  8. clare

    It is my opinion that Captain Richard Phillips, in thanking people for saving his life, should have also included President Obama. Obama took the initiative and action to mobilize the military to save the Captain’s life. Obama should not have been omitted in the Captain’s remarks.

    April 17, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  9. Kevin Troxell

    Mr. Anderson Copper;
    I just wanted to thank you for placing yourself in any situation to get the "story" to the people! Kudos to you Sir!
    Kevin Troxell

    April 17, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  10. Mike Syracuse, NY

    Chopping off fingers and other limbs. Hmm kindof makes all that hypwe about the CIA keeping prisoners in diapers seem a bit silly huh? I guess the cartels didn't get Obama's memo that torture is out.

    April 17, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  11. KathyBradley

    that is so awful. My husband has to go to one of the border towns every month and I'm scared every time he leaves that something like that will happen. Doesn't this govt. Care?

    April 17, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  12. AM

    This story is old news. What's more, you don't even mention the fact that he'd been prosecuted in the U.S. for drug possession. Doesn't sound so innocent to me.

    April 17, 2009 at 5:02 pm |