A San Diego police sergeant has warned underage Irish J-1 students not to venture across the Mexican border for nights out.

A report in the Irish Times claims that Irish students, as young as 18-years, are venturing across the border to the city of Tijuana where they are being targeted by criminals.

Over 500 homicides occurred in the city last year alone, making it the fifth most deadly year in Tijuana’s crime history.  

Sgt JJ Salinas, a member of the border crime suppression team in southern San Diego told the newspaper muggings and kidnappings are common, especially when revelers leave busy nightclubs in the early hours of the morning.

“Sometimes people are naive in that they don’t recognise the high level of violence that’s occurring right now in Mexico,” he said.

He added: “There have been incidents where people were taken to an ATM and forced to take out all their money.”

According to Bernadette Cashman of the Irish Outreach Centre in San Diego a tour bus is operating a service for Irish students that leaves them at the border on Wednesday night and then later picks them up early Thursday morning.

According to the US Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s website, visitors traveling in border areas have been victims of armed robberies, sexual assaults, auto thefts, and kidnappings.

Traditionally tens of thousands of Irish students travel to the US to avail of the three month J-1 work visa. San Diego has become a popular destination for Irish students, who are attracted to the city’s sunny climate and laid back lifestyle.