Is Tijuana safe for Americans?
Mexican kidnappers are getting more organized and honing in on Americans visiting tourist hot-spots in Mexico. The State Department cautions US citizens to be more careful and vigilant about their own safety when visiting Mexico.
"We have no power to get anyone out of jail or to represent anyone in a criminal proceeding if they get in trouble," said Steve Royster, a spokesperson for the US consulate's office. A "warden message" was issued last month to all Americans, warning that kidnappings in Mexico have doubled since 2006.
Though some of the victims were returned home, many were brutally tortured during ransom negotiations.
"The brutality that is inflicted on some of these people is unconscionable," FBI agent, Keith Slotter told CNN.
Police say potential kidnappers target tourist areas where they're more likely to find someone driving a nice car, shopping in expensive stores - people they think can afford a healthy ransom. The kidnappings appear to be random, but a few common sense rules can help keep you safe:
Trust your instincts: If you feel like you're being followed or targeted, act. Get yourself to a public area where it's much harder to quietly whisk someone away.
Chaperone yourself: If you're going to drink, do it at your hotel or resort rather than out on the town. There's less risk of attack steps away from your room.
Use the buddy system: Never wander into unfamiliar areas alone.
Disrupt the plan: If you're in a crowded area with lots of people around, yell words like "FIRE." Make a scene, bite, break things - anything you can do to attract attention.
Planning to head to Mexico, despite the warnings? How do you plan to stay safe?