Mexican kidnapping rings are targeting Americans with family and business connections in Mexico, as well as family living in Mexico.
The increase in cross-border violence has forced some American and Mexican citizens to take action to try to protect themselves from becoming the victims of kidnapping.
A whole industry dedicated to helping private citizens prevent kidnapping has sprung up. Multi-national security companies like Lasco International Group provide protection services; custom armored vehicles and protected chartered air service anywhere in the world.
NBCLA’s Ana Garcia got exclusive access to a private security training school in Chula Vista where everyday people are taught how not to get kidnapped.
Juan (last name not disclosed for security reasons), a former Navy Seal runs Eagle Eye Security Solutions -- an international security firm specializing in the art of not getting kidnapped. The school runs from a few days to a week and costs about $3,000 per student.
Some students arrive with an education you can’t get in a classroom.
“About 30 percent of our clients already have been kidnapped, and are mostly Mexican Executives, VIP’s, and government agencies.” said Juan.
Juan has put together a team of former military ops to teach his anti-kidnapping class.
“You have about two seconds to react when faced with a kidnapping," said Juan. “We teach our students what to do in those critical moments.”
Students learn how to fight, drive and shoot their way out of trouble. The course uses smash-up cars and live ammo to give students a feel for what a real kidnap situation would be like.
“There is nothing that can simulate what it feels like to be a in a live gun fight situation," said Juan.
Juan also teaches his students to always be hyper-aware of their situation before they get drawn into a potential deadly encounter.
Being vigilant is critical to avoid becoming a victim of crime in Mexico or anywhere abroad.
NBCLA has compiled a list of resources and tips for American travelers planning to visit Mexico.
US State Department tips for Americans traveling abroad:
Sign passport, and fill in the emergency information: Make sure you have a signed, valid passport, and a visa, if required, and fill in the emergency information page of your passport.
Leave copies of itinerary and passport data page: Leave copies of your itinerary, passport data page and visas with family or friends, so you can be contacted in case of an emergency.
Check your overseas medical insurance coverage: Ask your medical insurance company if your policy applies overseas, and if it covers emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. If it does not, consider supplemental insurance.
Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws: While in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws. The State Department website has useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit.
Take precautions to avoid being a target of crime: To avoid being a target of crime, do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry and do not carry excessive amounts of money. Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public areas and do not accept packages from strangers.
Contact us in an emergency: Consular personnel at U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the U.S. are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens. Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website at http://travel.state.gov. Also note that the Office of Overseas Citizen Services in the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs may be reached for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747, if calling from the U.S. or Canada, or 202-501-4444, if calling from overseas.
List of Other Helpful Websites:
Eagle Eye Solutions: Personal security details and anti-kidnapping training courses
U.S. Department of State: Travel Warnings page
U.S. Embassy-Mexico: Security update
U.S. Embassy: Traveler emergency contact information
U.S. Embassy: Consulates and Consular Agencies
Department of Homeland Security: Traveler’s information
Lasco International: Provides private security, armored vehicles and air travel