Fact Check: Mexico Is NOT On 'Red Alert' And There Are NO Credible Reports Of Minors Being Kidnapped For Organ Harvesting

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Mexico Is NOT On 'Red Alert' And There Are NO Credible Reports Of Minors Being Kidnapped For Organ Harvesting Warning

Is Mexico on a "red alert" with children being targeted for kidnapping so their organs can be harvested? No, that's not true. The U.S. State Department told Lead Stories they are "aware of an increased risk of kidnapping in Mexico, as described in our Mexico Travel Advisory. However, we are unaware of any credible reports of kidnapping minors for the purpose of organ harvesting." The U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory has designated Mexico as an orange level threat -- not red -- which warns "Level 3: Reconsider Travel" for the country south of the U.S. border.

A meme claiming there is "a mafia out paying big for kids there is a big demand for organs? appeared in a post (archived here) published on Facebook on September 30, 2020. It opened:

Mexico is in a red alert right now. Children ages 2-14 are being targeted

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Oct 2 19:17:21 2020 UTC)

The meme claimed:

Family in San Diego we think we saw crazy recently... Nope. It's about to get ugly the red alert is right here especially in Tijuana...
Do not let your kids out right now, don't let them walk to school when that shit opens do not let any of your kids out of your site in these coming days-months
Los Angeles, Riverside, Temecula you guys might not have heard but you guys are not that much further than us be alert this shit is real and dangerous

There is a mafia out paying big for kids there is a big demand for organs. Pray for the kids in Mexico and watch your babies here this is 100% real. Get scared be alert but watch out for your kids, nieces nephews strangers kids this is scary."

The State Department website has designated a "Level 3: Reconsider Travel" for Mexico issued on September 8, 2020.

Screen Shot 2020-10-02 at 2.30.27 PM.png
The travel advisory warns of an increased threat of "crime and kidnapping" but children are not mentioned anywhere on the site.

The State Department advises:

Do Not Travel To:
Colima state due to crime.
Guerrero state due to crime.
Michoacán state due to crime.
Sinaloa state due to crime.
Tamaulipas state due to crime and kidnapping.
Tamaulipas state - Do Not Travel
Do not travel due to crime and kidnapping.

Organized crime activity - including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault - is common along the northern border and in Ciudad Victoria. Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state in marked and unmarked vehicles and operate with impunity particularly along the border region from Reynosa northwest to Nuevo Laredo. In these areas, local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to crime incidents. There are greater law enforcement capabilities in the tri-city area of Tampico, Ciudad Madero, and Altamira, which has a lower rate of violent criminal activity compared to the rest of the state."

A State Department official gave Lead Stories a statement on October 2, 2020, about the travel advisory and the claim that children were being kidnapped for organs.

The State Department is aware of an increased risk of kidnapping in Mexico, as described in our Mexico Travel Advisory. However, we are unaware of any credible reports of kidnapping minors for the purpose of organ harvesting. We encourage all U.S. citizens planning on traveling to Mexico to read the entire Travel Advisory. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/mexico-travel-advisory.html.

The information used to formulate travel advisories is collected from a range of sources, such as crime statistics and other publicly-available information, information gathered from U.S. government sources, as well as assessments by our embassies and consulates. Travel advisories also take into account decisions made to protect the security of U.S. government personnel overseas and ensure that U.S. citizens receive appropriate security information. Travel advisories represent our commitment to protect U.S. citizens traveling and residing abroad by providing them important safety and security information."

The State Department's Overseas Security Advisory Council also advised American citizens to "Reconsider travel to Mexico due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk." Again, there is no mention of children specifically being targeted.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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