American college students on spring break trip confronted with 'rifles in their faces,' given three options

FIRST ON FOX: Three college students’ long-awaited spring break in Cancún, Mexico, turned into a nightmare when they were confronted at their beachfront hotel and robbed at gunpoint.

A father of one of the Florida State University students, who asked not to be identified, told Fox News Digital that his 20-year-old daughter’s spring break vacation at the Ocean Dream Cancun by Guru Hotel turned into a nightmare.

“I researched it before they went there,” he said. “It was a safe place to go. They didn’t go into the inner city.”

But on the very first day of their trip, his daughter and her two friends were confronted at the beach by four individuals armed with rifles.

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Located in Cancun’s Zona Hotelera neighborhood, Ocean Dream Cancun by GuruHotel is directly on the beach. The three college students said that they were confronted on their first night at the Ocean Dream Cancun hotel. The teens walked out to the beach following dinner, one of the parents told Fox News Digital. (Google Maps)

The father explained that two of the individuals were dressed in camo gear, while the other two were dressed in Mexican police gear.

The four individuals pointed rifles at the three girls, accused them of trespassing, and presented them with three options.

“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,” the father said his daughter was told. “Or you can each give us $300 apiece.”

Located in Cancun’s Zona Hotelera neighborhood, Ocean Dream Cancun by GuruHotel is directly on the beach. (Google Maps)

The girls chose the third option, turning over $900.

The armed robbers allowed one of the girls to run back to their hotel room and bring back the money.

After they were let go, the girls were shaken by the experience.

“They were scared,” he said. “They had rifles in their faces.”

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After the incident, the students said that they spoke with other spring breakers, who shared they had similar experiences.

“I think that is something that happens all the time there,” the father said. “They saw American kids checking in, and they know they have money.”

People enjoy a day at Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach) at the Hotel Zone of Cancun, Quintana Roo State, Mexico, on Nov. 8, 2022. (DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

Nicole Parker, a former FBI special agent and a Fox News contributor, told Fox News Digital that this is a relatable story for many spring breakers and families traveling to the white-sand beaches and crystal-blue waters in Mexico.

“I think this is a typical story, these students just wanted to have fun, and then it turns,” Parker said. “And the fact that others at the hotel had similar experiences is worth remembering.”

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“Just be very, very aware,” she added.

Tourists pose for a picture in front of a Cancun sign in Playa Delfines (Dolphin Beach) at the Hotel Zone of Cancun, Quintana Roo State, Mexico, on Nov. 8, 2022. (DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images)

The former FBI special agents advised Americans traveling to Mexico to take safety precautions beforehand.

“My advice is to follow the travel advisories issued by the State Department at state.gov and register with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program when traveling outside the continental U.S.,” Parker said. “If a travel advisory is strongly worded by the State Department but doesn’t cross the line of saying, ‘Do Not Travel,’ then a traveler should heed the warning and understand that various factors go into that warning. And 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 that people traveling to Mexico should research the resort or hotel they are staying at and identify the closest U.S. consulate.

“If you are a USA citizen and ever become the victim of a crime overseas, make sure to contact the closest USA consulate immediately. Additionally, report the incident to the FBI at fbi.gov or 800-CALL-FBI as they have extraterritorial squads that can assist host nation with conducting investigations. Additionally, the FBI has Legal Attaches (Legats) around the world that coordinate efforts with the local authorities of the host nation,” she said.

“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.”

Tourists hang out on the Gaviota Azul beach in Cancun, Mexico, on March 2. (AP Photo/Israel Leal, File)

In February, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico issued a stark warning to spring breakers.

The warning, issued Feb. 26, noted that “violent crime — such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery — is widespread and common in Mexico.”

The warning also detailed 10 potential threats and dangers, some of which have nothing to do with violence, but are things Americans might not even think about, such as drowning, immigration or medical emergencies.

Specific travel advisories issued by the U.S. State Department for Mexican states and cities can be found here.

Fox News has reached out to the U.S. State Department, the Mexican embassy in the U.S. and Ocean Dream Cancun by Guru Hotel for comment.

Sarah Rumpf-Whitten is a breaking news writer for Fox News Digital and Fox Business. 

She is a native of Massachusetts and is based in Orlando, Florida.

Story tips and ideas can be sent to [email protected] and on X: @s_rumpfwhitten.

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