But the highly publicized murder of Exxon executive Sidney Reso was no random act. Reso was kidnapped outside his Morris Township, New Jersey, home on April 29, 1992, and held for ransom. His kidnappers, a former Exxon security official named Arthur Seale and his wife, Irene, left Reso with an untreated gunshot wound and bound and gagged inside a wooden box in a storage facility. Reso died after three days of being left unattended in the room, where temperatures rose above 100 degrees. The kidnappers buried his body in a shallow grave 50 miles away. Arthur Seale was sentenced to 140 years for the kidnapping and murder; Irene Seale, who cooperated with police and led them to the body, was released from prison in 2010 after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence.

Although kidnappings are not frequent in the US, the threat is never far from the minds of executives with businesses in Mexico, where there has been an upsurge in drug cartel-related crimes over the past decade. But the overwhelming majority of kidnappings there are committed against Mexican citizens, not Americans visiting or working there, says Roy Grinberg, president of the Mexican franchise of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a Los Angeles-based specialty chain with nearly 900 stores worldwide, including seven in Mexico. “I think in Mexico, you develop something like a sixth sense where you’re always aware,” says Grinberg. “When you’re driving, you’re looking in the rearview mirror to see if you’re being followed and [you’re] always on the lookout for suspicious people you might see.” The threat has even spawned a growing fleet of private helicopters in Mexico City to give executives extra security and to provide an alternative to sitting in traffic jams.

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