Just in time for Spring Break, the Public Affairs office of the U.S. Department of Public Safety has issued another threat warning, urging U.S. citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to Mexico.
According to the U.S. Department of State, the safety issues concerning travel to Mexico get worse each year. The general conditions indicate that millions of American citizens safely visit each year for school, business, and pleasure. While the Mexican government attempts to protect visitors at resorts and tourist destinations, there is a significant organized crime problem in the country.
Carjacking, gun battles, robbery and kidnapping have affected U.S. tourists in the past, according to the U.S. Department of State. The time of day does not seem to influence the consistency of any of these crimes, and there have been incidents where cartels and smaller criminal organizations have created roadblocks to hinder police interference with their activities.
According to the Mexican Secretaria de Gobernacion (Secretariat of the Interior), kidnapping has increased more than 20 percent in the last year alone. States like Estado de Mexico, Morelos, Guerrero, Michoacán and Tamaulipas are among the top in kidnapping statistics. More than 130 kidnappings were reported to the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Mexico between January and November of last year.
In 2012, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) said that over 100 thousand kidnappings took place, and just over 10 percent were actually reported to the police.
The Mexican government says that due to the increase in Mexican military and police forces trying to battle the organized crime groups, their many checkpoints may inconvenience travelers. In addition, some criminal organizations have set up their own checkpoints, imitating the police in order to aid in nefarious deeds.
Overall, reports show over 80 U.S. citizen deaths related to criminal activity in Mexico in 2013, and about the same in 2014, down from a report in 2011 said that over 120 U.S. citizens had been murdered during criminal activities.
Travelers are advised to take a few precautionary steps if they must visit Mexico. Travel as little as possible between cities, and then only during the day. Do not display items that indicate wealth of any kind, and check in with the nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate upon arrival. Maintain awareness of surroundings, and avoid situations of isolation or otherwise standing out as a potential victim.
For more information, contact the local Passport office or visit travel.state.gov for alerts and warnings regarding travel to other countries.