Demonstrators in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 22 protest violence that targets… (Francisco Vega / AFP / Getty…)
The U.S. State Department last week reissued its travel warning on Mexico, just ahead of news on Monday that at least 177 bodies have been found over the last few weeks around San Fernando, about 80 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border in the state of Tamaulipas.
The department’s warning, issued Friday, says, “Due to ongoing violence and persistent security concerns, you are urged to defer non-essential travel to the states of Tamaulipas and Michoacán, and to parts of the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi and Jalisco.”
The action updated a warning last issued in September.
The new warning, like previous ones, is careful to note that many people travel to Mexico without problems. But, it adds: “Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.”
It cites transnational criminal organizations, or TCOs, involved in drug trafficking as major reasons for the increase violence, noting that 34,612 people have died as a result of narcoviolence since December 2006 -- 15,000 of them last year.
In 2010, the State Department received reports of 111 U.S. citizens murdered in Mexico. More than a third of them were killed in the border cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, it said.
The warning particularly cautions travelers about driving at night while also noting that TCOs often create road blockades on rural highways either to delay police response or to carjack or rob visitors.
The warning urges Americans to check out the U.S. Embassy’s Security Update. The most current updates on that page, however, appear to be from June 2010.
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that many of the 177 victims discovered in San Fernando had been tortured, and many of the women had been raped. Some were burned alive. The article also said that 17 of the 50 people arrested in connection with the slayings are local police officers.
Info: U.S. State Department