Spring Break Nightmare: Armed Robbery Targets American Students in Cancun

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More than five million Americans travel to Cancun, Mexico, every year, and the majority of those people have a pleasant experience. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for everyone, and it wasn’t the case for three Florida State University students – who were robbed at gunpoint just one day into their vacation.

Spring Break Turned Into Spring Nightmare

The three college students – who remain anonymous – had been planning their trip to Ocean Dream Cancun by GuruHotel for a while. The resort is located in Cancun’s Zona Hotelera neighborhood and has 68 suites and rooms available.

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“I researched it before they went there,” said the father of one of the college students. “It was a safe place to go. They didn’t go into the inner city.” He kept his and his daughter’s identity hidden but clarified that his daughter was 20 years old.

Three Students Confronted By Four Individuals

It was the first day of their vacation, and the three ladies were spending some time on the beach. You would think there’s no better place to be in Cancun than the beach, and everything was going fine until four men showed up.

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The four men were allegedly equipped with rifles. Two of them were dressed in camo, and the other two were dressed in what appeared to be Mexican police gear. It’s not the warm welcome the FSU students were expecting on their first day.

Students Were Given Three Options

With rifles pointed at their faces, the three women were accused of trespassing and were given three options – leave the country, go to jail, or pay $300 each. They allowed one of the students back into their room to grab the money.

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“You can go to the airport and leave the country before going to get your belongings. Or you can go to jail, and it won’t be comfortable. Or you can each give us $300 apiece,” the father said of the interaction. They gave the robbers $900 total.

They Weren’t The Only Ones To Be Confronted

The students were shocked by the encounter – and, of course, scared for their lives. They allegedly spoke with several other vacationers who were there on spring break, and they apparently weren’t the only ones who were targeted.

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“I think that is something that happens all the time there,” the father said. They saw American kids checking in, and they knew they had money.” Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality many visitors face when visiting Mexico.

Former FBI Special Agent Says To Be ‘Very, Very Aware’

During an interview with Fox News Digital, former FBI special agent (and current Fox News contributor) Nicole Parker spoke of the dangers Americans face when traveling across the border – and warned Americans not to be distracted by the white sand and blue waters.

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“I think this is a typical story, these students just wanted to have fun, and then it turns. And the fact that others at the hotel had similar experiences is worth remembering,” Parker said – urging everyone to ‘be very, very aware.’ She also gave Americans five tips when traveling to Mexico.

5. Make Sure You Follow Travel Advisories

Travel advisories are strong warning statements issued by the United States government. They aim to provide information about the relative safety of traveling to or visiting foreign countries deemed dangerous – all in an effort to prevent tragedy.

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Parker says you should never travel abroad without first following ‘travel advisories issued by the State Department at’ The state categorizes countries as a ‘Do Not Travel To,’ ‘Reconsider Traveling To,’ or ‘Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To’ destination.

4. Register With Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

Parker also says Americans should register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) before traveling outside the continental United States. Once enrolled, you’ll receive updates from the local U.S. embassy or consulate if things go south.

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“STEP allows you to enter information about trips abroad so that the Department of State, via our embassies and consulates, can better assist you in an emergency. You can also subscribe to receive email updates with travel advisories and other information for a particular country,” the website reads.

3. Identify Closest U.S. Consulate

Another precaution Americans can take before traveling to Mexico (or any foreign country, for that matter) is to identify the closest U.S. consulate in the area you’re visiting. Knowing this beforehand will help prepare you in case of an emergency.

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“If you are a USA citizen and ever become the victim of a crime overseas, make sure to contact the closest USA consulate immediately,” Parker says. They can help direct you to whatever help you need – whether it’s medical assistance or local law enforcement.

2. Contact FBI For Investigations

In addition to contacting the local U.S. consulate, Americans should also contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to report the incident. You can do this by visiting or calling 800-CALL-FBI.

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“The FBI has Legal Attaches (Legats) around the world that coordinate efforts with the local authorities of the host nation,” Parker said to Fox News – adding that ‘they have extraterritorial squads that can assist host nation with conducting investigations.’

1. Always Do Your Research

Parker’s final piece of advice is simple, yet important – always do your research before traveling to a foreign country. There’s a lot that can go wrong, especially if you’ve never been to the area and aren’t familiar with the culture.

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“When you go to these places, you really are traveling at your own risk,” Parker said. “I would always advise people to research where they are going.”

U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico Issues Warning

On February 26, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates issued a stern warning to Americans who were planning to travel to Mexico for this year’s spring break. The beginning of their message was simple – “Travel Smart. Be Informed.”

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“U.S. citizens should exercise increased caution in the downtown areas of popular spring break locations including Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, and Tulum, especially after dark,” they wrote – citing an increase in drugs, crime, unregulated alcohol, assault, drowning, and more.

Do Not Travel and Reconsider Traveling To These Cities

According to the Mexico Travel Advisory, the following states are labeled ‘Do Not Travel To’ – Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas. Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, and Sonora carry a ‘Reconsider Traveling To’ tag.

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“If the travel advisory definitively says, ‘Do Not Travel’ or ‘Reconsider Travel’, then, do not travel and if you do not heed the warning and travel anyway – then do not expect anyone to come save you and make sure you have travel insurance such as emergency medical evacuation,” Parker said.

Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To These Cities

As far as areas listed under the ‘Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To’ tag, Parker says travelers ‘should heed the warning and understand that various factors go into that warning.’

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States that fall under that category include Aguascalientes, Baja California Sur, Chiapas, Coahuila, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Mexico State, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana Roo, San Luis Potosi, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz.

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Ryan Handson

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