AN IRISHMAN missing in Colombia is feared to have been murdered by a drug cartel after his family receive disturbing videos demanding a €150,000 ransom.
James Hillis, a 40-year-old father from Co. Wexford, has been missing in the South American country for over a month now, but his family fear he may be dead after witnessing him allegedly being tortured in a ransom video they were sent.
Gardai have been made aware of the troubling videos but do not have them in their possession.
They have also confirmed they are "carrying out enquiries" with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Colombian authorities.
"We are aware of the case and providing consular assistance. It is policy of the department not to comment on ongoing cases," a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told independent.ie.
Mr Hillis, who is based in Tenerife, is understood to have travelled to Colombia voluntarily in October.
Gardai sources refused to confirm whether the Irishman intentionally met with "serious criminal elements" in Colombia or not.
While there is still no official confirmation yet that Hillis has been murdered, gardai say they are fearing the worst for him.
"Gardai are aware of certain videos but these have not been examined in any detail by officers," a source said.
"What is not in doubt is that Mr Hillis has not been in touch with his family since October and this would be highly unusual for him, which again raises another red flag in terms of his well-being."
Hillis is a man known to gardai, and while he isn't considered a major criminal, he has been convicted of a number of crimes in the past.
The Irish Independent report that they understand Mr Hillis, despite his reputation as a "wheeler dealer type", comes from an "extremely decent" family who have been left devastated by what has happened.