Kidnapping has for years been a scourge in Colombia.. A report by the U.S. State Department this year labeled kidnapping “a growing industry in Venezuela,” Colombia’s neighbor to the east. It also stated “groups that specialize in these types of crimes operate with impunity or fear of incarceration, more entrepreneurial criminals hit the streets.”

It is not a criminal act so much as a way to make a living, as The Post’s Juan Forero found today while reporting in Venezuela on the kidnapping of Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos. The following is from him:

In a country with 895 officially registered kidnappings last year, 13 times the 67 abductions that took place a decade ago, kidnapping for ransom has become a big business, said Luis Cedeno, director of Active Peace, a think tank in the capital of Caracas that studies crime.

He said with a big target like Ramos, a ballplayer who earned $415,000 in 2011, the culprits are likely to be part of a criminal organization, rather than a fly-by-night team. If they do make contact with the family, Cedeno said, it will likely not be to demand a dead-drop location but rather to give instructions in the first stage of a complex operation in which money is deposited in foreign accounts.

“Ten to 20 million dollars in this case,” he said. “That is what I would expect.”

Ramos’s family, for now, remains in the dark. Tonight, family friend and longtime Venezuela baseball official Enrique Brito said the family had not heard from Ramos’s captors. “They don’t know anything,” he said.

Tamara Corredor, another family friend, as well as Gustavo Marcano, an agent for the ballplayer who has known him five years, said that the family has yet to receive a demand for ransom. The family spent the day in their living room with investigators from Venezuela’s judicial police, as well as officials from other law enforcement agencies, they said.

“We are just waiting for that phone to ring,” Marcano said.