Savoi Wright, a 37-year-old mortgage loan specialist, was working remotely in Venezuela when he was stopped by police in a park while he was accompanying a woman who had drugs on her, according to reports. Wright wasn't charged, but he was placed in the custody of immigration for deportation after Venezuelan officials said his passport was missing a stamp.
Loved ones said Wright called his cousins about the situation before contacting his mom and sister via WhatsApp.
“Basically, during that time, we weren’t sure what had happened. When you hear that news, it’s difficult to digest, let alone process,” Wright’s sister, Moizeé Stewart, said.
Stewart said her brother didn't disclose too many details about his arrest because he was around his captors.
“He was speaking to us in a very, kind of coded way,” she said, noting their family was “up all night trying to scrape together” money to pay her brother’s ransom.
Wright's family said they've been in contact with U.S. government officials to try to bring him home safely.
“To anyone that has had the misfortune of being in this situation, your initial instinct is to go to the authorities for help and expect that there will be substantial support. This is not a situation that we’ve ever been in, let alone do we know what to do in this situation,” Stewart said. “Repeatedly, I was kind of informed that the U.S. does not have diplomatic ties with Venezuela and there is very little that can be done.”
The family believes that Wright might be held in a former textile factory-turned-detention center known for subjecting inmates to abuse and torture.
“He has no political ties. He is not a threat to Venezuela. We’re very concerned for him. Nobody’s acknowledging him. Nobody officially. We’re very concerned for his health and his well-being. We want him home,” Wright's family said.
Wright was reportedly detained following President Joe Biden easing back on oil sanctions against the Venezuelan government.