FBI says not to travel to parts of Mexico for spring break after 2 Americans are killed during kidnapping
PHOENIX - As spring break travel gets underway, U.S. authorities are warning against traveling to parts of Mexico after news came down that four Americans went missing in the country – leaving two dead.
The FBI office in San Antonio, Texas sounded the alarm, saying the Americans were fired upon, held at gunpoint, and appeared to be the victims of a kidnapping.
Two of four Americans abducted in Mexico are dead. The two others have been found alive, with one of them being hurt.
Places like Rocky Point are hot spots for Arizonans, but it's now in the "please reconsider travel" advisory.
"If you're driving there, which most people will from Arizona, stay on the main highways. Try not to veer too far off course. That's where you can kind of get into sticky situations," says Brooke Brennan with FBI Phoenix. "Have an emergency contact, make sure you're checking in with them, and make sure they know how often you plan to check in with them."
In addition to an emergency contact you check in with on regularly scheduled times, the FBI also recommends saving the contact information for American embassies in whichever part of Mexican you plan to head to.
"Only use official forms of travel – so official taxis, shuttles, maybe for the resort that you're staying at. Unofficial travel and unauthorized travel usually can make you an easier target and that's where some of these kidnappings have occurred," Brennan explained.
Another warning: don't be flashy with your wallet or your watches. It draws attention.
Mexico's President says the four Americans crossed the border to buy medicine and ended up in a confrontation between groups.
The U.S. Ambassador to Mexico said an innocent Mexican citizen died in the attack. American agencies worked with Mexican authorities to find the citizens.
Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news:
If you must travel to Mexico, authorities strongly recommend:
- Keep traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If separating from your travel group, send a friend your GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text it to a friend.
- Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night. In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside the state capital or major cities.
- Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
- Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
- Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
- Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy on Facebook and Twitter.
- Review the Country Security Report for Mexico.
- Mariners planning travel to Mexico should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts, which include instructions on reporting suspicious activities and attacks to Mexican naval authorities.
- Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
Members of the Navy patrol the Manzanillo coast in Manzanillo, Mexico. (File photo by Leoanrdo Montecillo/Agencia Press South/Getty Images)
‘Be aware of your surroundings’
Scottsdale resident Jorj Marie Mills says her Rocky Point vacation is one to remember. Before the spring break crowds and presumably lots of college students hit the water, she and her four-legged friend walked on the sand.
"This morning my dog and I were on the beach all by ourselves. It was like we rented the whole place," she said.
Jorj says she feels safe at Rocky Point, sometimes even safer than she does at home.
"Honesty I think we have a false sense of security in the Phoenix metro area. Here we have no guns, slow speed limits, and I really feel safe," she said.
At Terra Travel in Mesa, Christina Ortega says they only recommend clients go to a few spots in Mexico.
"Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. We don’t go anywhere else," Christina Ortega with Terra Travel said.
She says some clients have questions and concerns about travel and the news of the Americans being killed might affect summer travel plans for some, but as long as they stay to tourist cities, she thinks it’s safe.
"I'd go there in a heart beat, but I’d advise our clients to stay on the property, don’t wander off and if they do explore, use a vetted supplier or your operator. Not just anyone, or through the hotel if they use a trusted company," she recommended.
Jorj agreed with Ortega – it’s about where you go.
"I love France and there are places in Paris I wouldn't go to. It’s kind of a dangerous world, and you just have to be aware of your surroundings," she said.