Mexico -- a travel destination popular for its gorgeous wealth of beaches, fascinating ancient sites, and delicious cuisine -- now has five states that, according to the U.S. State Department’s updated travel advisory system, are deemed too dangerous to visit and should be avoided.
Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas -- all of which are hot spots for drug cartel activity and violent crime -- have been ranked as level 4, with an explicit “do not travel” advisory, putting them in the same company of war-ridden countries like Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. “Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread,” the travel warning states.
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According to the State Department, “violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault” is common in Tamaulipas. “Gang activity, including gun battles, is widespread. Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state.”
And in Guerrero, 11 people were recently killed in a police shoot-out, according to The Associated Press. The travel advisory for this south-of-the-border state claims that “armed groups operate independently from the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers.”
Even worse, Mexico saw its deadliest year in terms of murders in 2017, according to preliminary figures, BBC reports. Prior to that, the year with the most homicides was 2011, when more than 27,000 people were killed.
The country on a whole received a level 2 rating, meaning that travelers should “exercise increased caution.” In addition, 11 states were ranked a level 3, urging Americans to “reconsider travel.”
However, it’s worth pointing out that the country’s main tourist destinations — Cancun, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, and Mexico City — have no travel restrictions, Mexico’s Tourism Ministry said in a statement. They also noted that more than 28 of its most popular tourism destinations for international travelers have no restrictions.
For those who still plan to hop across the border, the State Department suggests taking the following precautions: use toll roads when possible and avoid driving at night; exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos; do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches of jewelry; be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMS; and enroll in the Smarter Travel Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
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