Texas issued a strong warning Tuesday for students who want to party on spring break: Don't go to Mexico. The Department of Public Safety warning cites violent crime from battling drug cartels as reasons to avoid traveling anywhere south of the border -- even to popular tourist destinations that weren't included in a recent U.S. State Department warning.
"The Mexican government has made great strides battling the cartels, and we commend their continued commitment to making Mexico a safer place to live and visit," the statement from Director Steven C. McCraw says in part. "However, drug cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat, even in some resort areas."
Mexico's tourism chief denounced the warning as exceptionally aggressive and untrue. "The DPS has the right to inform as they see fit, but we believe that what they are conveying in the content of the travel alert is not the reality in Mexico," Rodolfo Lopez-Negrete, chief operating officer of the Mexico Tourism Board, said via phone from Berlin where he was attending the ITB travel trade show.
The Texas agency warned about bars and nightclubs in resort sites such as Cancun, Acapulco, Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and Tijuana as "havens for drug dealers and petty criminals." It also referred to 12,903 narcotics-related homicides in the first nine months of 2011 and said the number of U.S. citizens reported as murdered in Mexico jumped from 35 in 2007 to 120 in 2011. Reuters reports this is the third year in a row that Texas has issued such a warning.