Frank and Jennifer Massabki had traveled to Mexico in May 2017 looking for a potential location for their wedding. They had barely begun their journey when they were kidnapped, robbed, and beaten. Despite the terrifying circumstances, the couple managed to escape and make it out of the situation alive.
The Miami couple’s excursion into Mexico began innocently enough. The Massabkis had rented a car from an American rental company in Mexico City and were heading to their next destination. After driving for about an hour, the car was rear-ended. Frank exited the vehicle to speak with the other driver but soon discovered that this was not just an innocent traffic accident.
According to a police report obtained by Market Watch, two armed men exited the other vehicle and approached the couple. The men took Frank and Jennifer hostage in their car, telling them to remove all of their jewelry. The men then blindfolded Frank and drove the couple to another location. Both Frank and Jennifer are fluent in Spanish, and Jennifer told the Daily Mail that one of the men said to her, “This is going to get a lot worse for you.”
The kidnappers told the couple that they should start thinking of people to call for a ransom, before arriving at their destination. Jennifer and Frank were beaten for hours, and one of the men attempted to rape Jennifer. However, she fought back, which provided enough of a distraction for Frank to run away to find police. After Frank’s escape, the men tied up Jennifer and went to look for him. However, Jennifer also managed to break free. She climbed a 20-foot tree and hid among the branches. She stayed in the tree for hours, until finally, Frank returned with the police. The couple filed a police report and then sought medical treatment back home in the United States. Jennifer received emergency surgery on her nose, which had been broken by her attackers.
Though the couple had traveled to Mexico before, they had never come close to an experience like this one. Frank and Jennifer credited their escape to their fluency in Spanish as well as being physically fit enough to run away. “We just want other people to know these dangers exist,” Frank told the Daily Mail, “We were lucky to escape, and if our story can prevent one other person from going through what we went through, and what we almost had to go through, it would be worth it.”
Violent encounters are on the rise in the southern and central states of Mexico, according to a 2018 report from the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC). According to the report, kidnappings in Mexico go largely unreported due to the belief that the police are involved in crime or unable to solve the problem. The OSAC also reported that in 2016, there were 771 kidnapping cases in Mexico involving people connected to the United States and that the police were implicated in the majority of these cases.
The United States Department of State travel website advises travelers to completely avoid the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas due to the high crime rates in these areas. The State Department also advises that travelers take extra precautions when visiting certain parts of the country. These include using toll roads at night, being vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs, wearing jewelry or expensive watches, and paying attention at bars and restaurants.
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