A wave of American citizens getting carjacked south of the border in San Fernando has prompted officials to issue a new travel warning.
The American Consulate in Matamoros recently issued a warden's message after several reports of highway carjackings in central Tamaulipas.
According to the warning, numerous American citziens have reported getting carjacked on the highway between Ciudad Victoria and San Fernando.
Others have been carjacked on the highways from Reynosa and Matamoros going to San Fernando in and around the communities of San German, La Loma and Santa Teresa.
San Fernando is located about an hour south of Matamoros and has been witness to intense drug cartel violence as well as the massacre of 72 Central and South American immigrants.
The warning said there is no pattern to the carjackings. They have taken place at different days of the weeks and different times. Old and new cars with American and Mexican license plates have all been stolen.
Most victims reported that it happened when there was little traffic on the road and they were approached by armed teens or young men wearing all black or camouflage.
The majority of the victims were not harmed in the carjackings while some were left with their personal belongings in their pockets.
Consulate officials said they also received reports about passenger buses being stopped and robbed in some cases with passengers being forced off the bus.
University of Texas at Brownsville student Jonathon Torres was reportedly killed in such an incident back in October.
Action 4 News first reported that Torres' bus was headed to Ciudad Mante, Tamaulipas when it was hijacked by drug cartel members.
Torres and other passengers were killed in the incident.
Warden Message for Tamaulipas November 12th, 2010
U.S. Consulate General of the United States of AmericaMatamoros, Tamaulipas, MexicoNovember 12, 2010WARDEN MESSAGE
The United States Consulate General in Matamoros advises U.S. citizens who are traveling in Tamaulipas of an increase in armed carjackings on highways in this state. In particular, numerous U.S. citizens have reported that their vehicles were stolen along the highway that links Cd. Victoria to San Fernando (Carretera Federal 101) and near the split of the highway north of the San Fernando where the road leads northeast to Matamoros (Carretera Federal 101) and northwest to Reynosa (Mexico 97). Multiple carjackings have been reported near the towns of San German, La Loma, and Santa Teresa, which are located between San Fernando and Matamoros on Carretera Federal 101, about 50 miles south of the border.
Victims' profiles vary. Some were traveling with passengers in the vehicle, while others were alone. Some were driving large new trucks, and others small, older sedans. The carjackings occurred at all times of day and night and on all days of the week. Some of the victims' vehicles had United States license plates, and others had Mexican plates. Most victims reported that there was very little traffic on the road at the time they were targeted.
Victims all reported being pulled over or cut off by one or more vehicles and then being threatened by firearms. While there have been some reports of injuries, the majority of victims were not physically harmed during the robbery. The number of perpetrators and the types of vehicles they were driving have varied, but the assailants are generally described as a group of young men or teenagers in civilian, all-black, or camouflage clothing. Many of the carjackings lasted less than two minutes. Some of the victims were left with the personal belongings in their pockets, but others also had their wallets, cell phones, and travel documents stolen.
The Consulate is also aware of incidents involving passengers on inter-city buses in Tamaulipas, including armed robbery and the forced removal of passengers from buses by criminals.
Security and Safety Advice
In traffic, always attempt to leave space in which to maneuver. Always leave yourself an escape route. Be prepared to take evasive action at any time.
Never give out your personal information such as family member and household staff names, addresses or telephone numbers in an open setting.
Brief all of your family members on security measures.
Inform your family, supervisor, and colleagues of your whereabouts if you are traveling overnight.
Stay in Touch
U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department's travel registration web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/ so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security. Americans without Internet access may register in person or by phone with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.
U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. For additional information, please refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" found at http://travel.state.gov.
As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, available on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada or, outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1- 202-501-4444.
For any emergencies involving American citizens in the Matamoros consular district, please call or visit the American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit at the U.S. Consulate General on Avenida Primera 2002, Col. Jardin, Matamoros, Tamaulipas; telephone (011)(52)(868) 812-4402. http://matamoros.usconsulate.gov/.