On Sunday, November 24, a French and Mexican national were kidnapped near the Nevado de Toluca volcano (state of Mexico) as they were driving in the national park. As of Monday, November 25, the victims' whereabouts remain unknown while a search operation is ongoing in the area, situated in the Zinacantepec municipality.
A heightened security presence is expected in the area. Similar kidnappings are cannot be ruled out in the region over the near term.
Territorial clashes between competing and increasingly fragmented cartels are on the rise in much of the country, resulting in increased violence in parts of Mexico. According to the Mexican association Alto Al Secuestro, between January and October 2019, 1690 people were abducted in Mexico, a 37.7 percent increase from the same period in 2018. According to the same association, the State of Mexico is the second largest in the country in terms of kidnappings, after the state of Veracruz, in the east. The majority of cases reported are kidnap for ransom incidents, as Mexican criminal organizations use ransoms payments to help fund their activities. However, such payments do not always guarantee the safe release of the victim. While business owners and government figures are frequently targeted, bystanders are also affected.
Individuals present in Mexico are advised to remain vigilant and refrain from sharing personal information with unknown persons to limit the risk of being targeted by potential kidnappers. If attacked, remain calm, do not offer any resistance, and obey all demands issued by your assailant(s). Do everything in your power to keep the situation as calm as possible (accept offered food, engage in conversation initiated by your captors, avoid all political or potentially inflammatory topics, do not do anything that would spook your captors, etc.).