The US State Department has issued an advisory warning Americans of an increased risk of kidnapping when traveling to Mexico, amid heightened cartel violence in several regions.
“Violent crimes, such as homicides, kidnappings, carjackings and robberies, are widespread and common in Mexico,” the State Department said in its advisory Wednesday.
The federal government and the State Department have limited capacity to provide emergency services to citizens in many locations in Mexico. This is because US government employees are restricted or prohibited from traveling to certain areas, according to the State Department.
“U.S. citizens are advised to adhere to travel restrictions for U.S. government employees. State-specific restrictions are included in the individual state notices below,” the notice reads. “U.S. government employees can’t travel between cities after dark, can’t hail taxis on the street, and must rely on dispatched vehicles, including app-based services like Uber, and regulated taxi ranks.”
For government employees, they should also avoid traveling alone and to remote areas, according to the bulletin. Federal government employees also cannot drive from the “US-Mexico border to or from interior parts of Mexico” except for daytime travel in Baja California, a Mexican state south of California, and in a few other selected regions.
Several Mexican states have been flagged in the “Do Not Travel” section of the State Department bulletin due to crime and kidnapping risk, including the states of Sinaloa, Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Zacatecas and Tamaulipas. People have also been urged to reconsider travel or exercise extra caution in most other Mexican states due to the risk of kidnapping or crime.
“Keep your traveling companions and family back home informed of your travel plans. If you get separated from your travel party, send a friend your GPS location. If you are taking a taxi alone, take a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and text it to a friend,” according to the State Department bulletin.
“Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving alone or at night,” he added. “In many states, police presence and emergency services are extremely limited outside of the state capital or major cities.”
Hundreds of Mexican troops were sent to the border town of Juarez last week after a prison standoff between members of two rival cartels sparked a riot and shootings that killed 11 people, most of them civilians , authorities said.
Across the city, convenience stores were shot down and set on fire. FEMSA, the parent company of the Oxxo chain, said in a statement that one of its employees and a woman applying for a job were killed in the violence.
Last weekend in the state of Baja California, about two dozen vehicles were hijacked and set on fire, allegedly by cartel members, according to reports. There have been reports and video footage surfacing of the Jalisco New Generation cartel issuing a curfew declaration in Tijuana, located next to San Diego, California, while threatening local residents.
Reuters contributed to this report.