Official: Americans in trouble in Mexico have help

Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs

A recent travel warning for Mexico labels neighboring Tamaulipas as one of the most dangerous states south of the border.

Although some 20 million Americans to travel safely to Mexico each year, the drug war has made travel and business more complicated.

Janice Jacobs, a high-ranking State Department official who visited the border this weekend, told Action 4 News that the travel warning is meant to inform visitors.

"We're not telling them you can't go, Jacobs said. All we want, is for them to have is the best information about the risks involved."

According to a July 12th travel warning for Mexico, some 12 states are safe.

But neighboring Tamaulipas leads Mexico in kidnappings.

The populous state just south of the Rio Grande Valley has also seen a 92.5 percent increase in murders since last year. Unfortunately, some Americans get caught in the middle.

Jacobs told Action 4 News that the American Consulate in Matamoros and others across Mexico are there to help.

Although exact figures are not available, the number of Americans who have gone missing or have been kidnapped in Mexico has increased.

Jacobs said consulates offer a number of services to families.

"We do a lot of checks ourselves to see if can locate the person, Jacobs said. We'll call the police station, check with the prisons, check with the hospitals. We even check with the morgues."

Although consulate staff cannot act as a lawyer or give legal advice, Jacobs said they serve as a "go between" for families and Mexican authorities.

In many cases, consulate staff can provide referrals and event visit Americans in Mexican prisons to check on their welfare.

As for the missing or kidnapping, consulate staff act as a liaison with Mexican police and in some cases, bring in the FBI.

"We understand completely the difficult situation that the families are in and we try very hard to deal with them and make sure that they have the most up to date information possible, Jacobs said.

The State Department encourages those traveling to Mexico to register their travels on their website.

The department has also created a mobile app and social media accounts to keep visitors to Mexico and other countries informed.