Many extortion calls are made by inmates in Mexican prisons. Many extortion calls are made by inmates in Mexican prisons.

FBI investigated 113 cases of kidnapping, extortion in Mexico last year

Travelers warned to take precautions in Mexico City due to 'serious risk of crime'

The United States revealed that the FBI investigated 113 kidnapping cases involving U.S. citizens and residents in Mexico in 2018, and warned its citizens to take extra care when traveling to Mexico City because of the “serious risk of crime.”

Of the 113 cases, 64 involved a U.S. citizen, in 10 cases the victim was a U.S. permanent resident of Mexico and in 39 cases, an extortion call or ransom demand was placed to a number in the U.S.

A report by the Overseas Advisory Council (OSAC) found that the general crime rate in Mexico City exceeds the U.S. national average.

“The low rate of criminal convictions contributes to the high rate of crime. Although there is no pattern of criminals specifically targeting foreign or U.S. businesses/personnel, criminals will target anyone perceived as lucrative and vulnerable.”

The report warns visitors of the risk of killings, armed robberies, kidnappings, sexual assault, auto theft, credit card fraud. It also singles out Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas for the added risk of cartel violence and roadblocks, advising U.S. citizens not to visit those states.

The agency has included Mexico on its list of 35 countries where its citizens were at increased risk of being kidnapped and noted that the Mexican government recorded a total of 1,480 kidnaping cases in 2018. The report asserted that the states with the highest recorded numbers of kidnappings were Guerrero, Veracruz, México and Tabasco, warning that “police (or former law enforcement officials) have been implicated in many of these incidents.”

The State Department report added that the increase in crime is due to diverse factors that have strengthened organized crime operations in recent years, allowing them to operate with relative impunity.

“Mexico is experiencing a combination of conditions that collectively degrade the security environment in certain areas. The government has captured some of its most wanted criminals. Consequently, organized criminal groups are becoming much less organized and disciplined. Various groups have splintered into smaller gangs, which have branched out into different illegal business activities, and associated violence is spreading across Mexico.”

The report also expressed a litany of additional concerns, including virtual kidnappings, weak or corrupt police, dangerous travel conditions, cargo theft and some incidences of police harassment.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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