Tuesday, November 20, 2012

U.S. State Dept. renews general travel alert for Mexico

113 Americans murdered in Mexico in 2011, and 32 in the first six months of 2012, says Washington

Guadalajara - The U.S. Department of State today renewed a travel warning for many regions of Mexico which it originally issued Feb. 8, 2012. The previous warning is here.

Today's alert by the Bureau of Consular Affairs noted the following:

"U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs (Transnational Criminal Organizations) which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico. The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity. As a result, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country and can occur anywhere. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to TCO activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery.

"According to the statistics last published by the Mexican government in late 2011, 47,515 people were killed in narcotics-related violence in Mexico between December 1, 2006 and September 30, 2011, with 12,903 narcotics-related homicides in the first nine months of 2011 alone. While most of those killed in narcotics-related violence have been members of TCOs, innocent persons have also been killed.

"The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered under all circumstances in Mexico was 113 in 2011 and 32 in the first six months of 2012.

"Gun battles between rival TCOs or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, especially in the border region. Gun battles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. TCOs use stolen cars and trucks to create roadblocks on major thoroughfares, preventing the military and police from responding to criminal activity. The location and timing of future armed engagements is unpredictable. We recommend that you defer travel to the areas indicated in this Travel Warning and to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern border region.

"The number of kidnappings and disappearances throughout Mexico is of particular concern. Both local and expatriate communities have been victimized. In addition, local police have been implicated in some of these incidents. We strongly advise you to lower your profile and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention.

"Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region and U.S. citizens have been murdered in such incidents. Most victims who complied with carjackers at these checkpoints have reported that they were not physically harmed. Carjackers have shot at vehicles that fail to stop at checkpoints. Incidents have occurred during the day and at night, and carjackers have used a variety of techniques, including bumping/moving vehicles to force them to stop and running vehicles off the road at high speeds. There are some indications that criminals have particularly targeted newer and larger vehicles, especially dark-colored SUVs. However, victims driving a variety of vehicles, from late model SUVs to old sedans have also been targeted.

"While violent incidents have occurred at all hours of the day and night on both modern toll ("cuotas") highways and on secondary roads, they have occurred most frequently at night and on isolated roads. To reduce risk, if absolutely necessary to travel by road, we strongly urge you to travel between cities throughout Mexico only during daylight hours, to avoid isolated roads, and to use toll roads whenever possible. The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat the TCOs. U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways may encounter government checkpoints, which are often staffed by military personnel or law enforcement personnel. TCOs have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints, and killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them. You should cooperate at all checkpoints."

Today's warning did not include a travel alert for the states of Jalisco or Yucatán, or for the Federal District. But the State Dept. warned U.S. citizens of travel dangers in portions of Jalisco which abut Zacatecas and Michoacán, and recommended against travel in some parts of bordering Nayarit state. Nayarit includes the popular Pacific coast resort of Nuevo Vallarta.

The government once again said that northern Mexican states and areas near the U.S. border pose the greatest risks for travelers (U.S. drug czar tells House that Juárez is world's deadliest city).

Jalisco state in 2012
In September 17 brutalized bodies were found abandoned in Jalisco, on a highway leading to Morelia, capital of Michoacán. That case has not been resolved. Last May, the severed heads and butchered remains of 18 execution victims were found in vehicles on a busy four lane from Guadalajara to Lake Chapala, about 30 miles southeast of the city. A narcomensaje, or executioner's message, was left at the scene, signed by Los Zetas. The town of Ajijic, which fronts the lake, has long been a haven for American and Canadian expatriates. Disruptive narco blockades have twice occurred in Guadalajara itself this year.

Nov. 21 - Mexicans are worried about domestic security

Six murders in 12 hours alarm Guadalajara metro and suburbs; security operations underway
U.S. State Dept. issues Guadalajara warning
Felipe Calderón tells Wall Street Journal, "violence in Mexico is declining"
U.S. State Dept. issues Mexico-wide alert, warning of "anti-American violence"
14 corpses left at a Tamaulipas city hall
U.S. State Dept. Warning to Americans in Mexico - issued June 4, 2012
Bloody narco violence strikes Rio Grande border town of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas
U.S. Consulate in Matamoros, Tamaulipas issues Emergency Warning for Americans
Mexican governor will travel to Texas to challenge travel alert for spring breakers
Spring Break nears, but U.S. students are not headed to Cancún (or much of Mexico)
Latest U.S. travel alert is "ridiculous," says Mexican government official


  1. Well that's good news, then... on track to 50 percent less Americans murdered in Mexico.

  2. Indeed. Let's hope that a similar reduction in murders of Americans in the USA can be on the way as well.