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State Dep't renews Mexico travel warning

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Border & immigration

State Dep't renews Mexico travel warning

Feds: Americans should avoid unnecessary travel to northern Mexico

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The U.S. State Department has renewed its warning for Americans to avoid unnecessary travel to northern Mexico.

The travel warning - originally issued in February and renewed last week - says U.S. citizens should delay going to the Mexican states of Michoacán and Tamaulipas and to parts of Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Durango, and Coahuila.

The state of Sonora is not in the list of areas to avoid travel but Nogales, Son., is mentioned as a city where firefights have broken out.

The warning says tourists should stick to known tourist areas:

Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major drug trafficking routes.


It is imperative that U.S. citizens understand the risks involved in travel to Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and who to contact if one becomes a victim of crime or violence. Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable.

"While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well," the warning says.

According to published reports, 22,700 people have been killed in narcotics-related violence since 2006. The great majority of those killed have been members of DTOs. However, innocent bystanders have been killed in shootouts between DTOs and Mexican law enforcement or between rival DTOs.


Much of the country’s narcotics-related violence has occurred in the northern border region. For example, since 2006, three times as many people have been murdered in Ciudad Juarez, in the state of Chihuahua, across from El Paso, Texas, than in any other city in Mexico. More than half of all Americans killed in Mexico in FY 2009 whose deaths were reported to the U.S. Embassy were killed in the border cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana.

Since 2006, large firefights have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, often in broad daylight on streets and other public venues. Such firefights have occurred mostly in northern Mexico, including Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana, Chihuahua City, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Piedras Negras, Reynosa, Matamoros and Monterrey. Firefights have also occurred in Nayarit, Jalisco and Colima.  During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area.

Because of the security situation in Mexico, the State Department has given family members of officials at consulates in Nogales, Son., Ciudad Juarez, Tijuana,, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros permission to relocate to the U.S. temporarily.

The families are not under a mandatory evacuation order.

The new warning, dated July 16, includes a caution about violence and carjackings on Mexican highways that is similar to a "Warden Message" issued by the consulate in Nogales in May.

U.S. consulate employees and their families are not permitted to travel by vehicle across the border or to posts in the Mexican interior. Those assigned to border posts, such as Nogales, Son., may still travel by car.

In May, the Nogales consulate advised U.S. citizens to avoid traveling at night on Highway 8 between the U.S.-Mexico border and Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), because of reports of fake checkpoints.

Rocky Point business owners decried the "Warden Message," saying the reports were unconfirmed, but the consulate stood behind its advisory.

While the latest travel warning does not specifically mention Highway 8, it does advise U.S. citizens to "make every attempt to travel on main roads during daylight hours."

The police chief of Puerto Peñasco was the subject of an attempted assassination in June, when he and his bodyguard were ambushed while on patrol.

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