The U.S. government has issued a travel warning for Americans going to Mexico, saying increased violence between criminal organizations has made certain parts of the country unsafe.
“U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery in various Mexican states,” it says. “[However] there is no evidence that criminal organizations have targeted U.S. citizens based on their nationality.”
It went on to say that gun battles between criminal gangs and with police have happened in broad daylight in public places, and lists a number of places U.S. officials have been barred from traveling for non-essential business.
It also warns travelers that some criminal organizations have set up official-looking checkpoints that look like official Mexican government checkpoints, with members even wearing police or military uniforms. Travelers who have failed to stop at them have been killed or kidnapped. The U.S. government advises that travelers “cooperate at all checkpoints.”
The advisory says that American citizens have been killed in highway robberies and in carjackings—most often at night and on isolated roads. Cellphone coverage in many parts of the country is poor, it says, so it advises people to travel on toll roads—called cuotas—whenever possible.
Some of the techniques used in carjackings include roadblocks, bumping or moving vehicles to get them to stop, or even running vehicles off the road at high speeds.
For this reason, U.S. government officials have been banned from intercity travel after dark in many places in the country.
Newer and larger vehicles seem to be the targets of criminals, it says, but old sedans and buses from the United States have also been stopped.
“The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations,” the advisory states. “Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the level of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes.”
However, the U.S. government updated its safety and security guidelines for Mexico in July after reports of American tourists waking up with injuries or even dying after drinking tainted alcohol at some Mexican resorts.
Earlier this month, the Mexican government confiscated 10,000 gallons of illicit alcohol from 31 places around Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, saying the manufacturer of the alcohol used “bad manufacturing practices.”
The update to the advisory and the crackdown on bootleg liquor comes after the death of a 20-year-old Wisconsin woman who was found face-down in a pool at a resort near Playa Del Carmen in January. She and her brother had had a drink at the pool before meeting their mother and her husband for dinner when they lost consciousness, the brother reported.
After the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported the death, a number of other Americans who had visited Mexico and had similar experiences came forward.