Kidnapping and Murder of Hmong American Activist in Colombia Raises Concerns Over Dating App Safety

Medellín, Colombia – Colombian officials have announced the imprisonment of three individuals in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Hmong American comedian and activist Tou Ger Xiong, whose body was discovered near Medellín. The suspects, two men, and a woman, have been charged with aggravated kidnapping for extortion and aggravated homicide in Xiong’s death last month. Additionally, a minor confessed to participating in the crime and has also been charged, being transferred to a special detention center for minors.

The U.S. Embassy in Bogota had previously issued a warning regarding Colombian criminals using dating apps to lure and attack victims, citing several suspicious deaths of U.S. citizens in Medellín. Xiong, a comedian known for addressing issues of racial discrimination, had traveled to Medellín as a tourist on November 29 and was found deceased 12 days later in the Robledo area, northwest of the city. The Colombian forensic science institute determined that he had died from injuries inflicted by a blunt object.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Xiong was forcibly held in an apartment in Robledo, where he was tortured, beaten, and robbed of personal belongings. The captors demanded thousands of dollars from Xiong’s family and a friend in the United States, ultimately receiving a transfer of $3,140 before taking him to a wooded area, where he was further assaulted and thrown off a cliff. Following the tragic event, Xiong’s family expressed their indescribable pain over his loss.

Xiong’s personal background included being born in Laos in 1973, with his family fleeing to Thailand after the communist takeover in 1975. After spending time in a refugee camp, they resettled in St. Paul, Minnesota, home to the largest Hmong community in the U.S. These details provide a glimpse into the life of the beloved activist and the circumstances that led him to become an influential figure in his community.