The issue of safety is foremost in people’s minds as spring break begins in well-known seaside resorts hundreds of miles away in America’s west and south. The US government is advising citizens to stay away from cartel hotspots amid an uptick in violence as spring breakers prepare their bikinis and sunglasses to hit the shore in Mexico.
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The kidnapping and murder of US tourists this week in the Mexico City of Matamoros, which is only a few miles from Brownsville, Texas, has shone a bright light on the violence in this popular tourist destination. Six of Mexico’s 32 states, including Tamaulipas state, where Matamoros is located, have “do not travel” advisories in effect, according to the US State Department. The State Department categorizes seven Mexican states as “reconsider travel,” while seventeen are tagged as “exercise increased caution.”
For advisories in each of those three categories, some states, including Tamaulipas, mention “crime and kidnapping” as the reason. “Exercise normal precautions” is also the advice for the states of Campeche and Yucatán on the Yucatán Peninsula. US nationals traveling to Cancun, Cabo, and Tulum are advised to practice “increased caution” due to the risk of crime and kidnapping, while those going to Puerto Vallarta are encouraged to “reconsider travel” due to the “commonplace violent crime and gang activity.”
In the state of Quintana Roo, where Playa del Carmen and Cancun are greeting a surge of spring break visitors, the State Department warns travelers to “exercise greater caution due to crime and kidnapping.” Comprehensive travel advisories for Mexico are also available for Canada and the UK.
In the most recent warning that a drug war rages behind the façade of the nation’s sun-drenched resorts, four Americans were abducted and two were slayed on Friday in the border town of Matamoros. Despite the escalating cartel violence, travel agents are reporting a post-pandemic boom with bookings trebling on pre-2020 figures.
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The recommended precautions for travel in Mexico include traveling in a private vehicle with a trusted driver, sticking to daylight hours, avoiding trouble spots in cities, and never traveling alone. Staying tuned to the news and government alerts is another good precaution and so is keeping your mobile device charged.
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Watch: Two kidnapped Americans found dead in Mexico after brutal shooting