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Mexico: Safety tips for young adults going south for spring break

March 26, 2013|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • The historic center of Mazatlan, a popular choice for young spring break travelers.
The historic center of Mazatlan, a popular choice for young spring break… (Michael Robinson Chavez…)

If you're among the 100,000 young people who soon may be heading to Mexico to party at a cool beach resort for spring break, the U.S. State Department has a bit of advice for you.

"While the vast majority enjoys their vacation without incident, several may die, hundreds will be arrested, and still more will make mistakes that could affect them for the rest of their lives."

Already one life has been lost. USC senior Samuel Levine on spring break in Cabo San Lucas fell to his death from a sixth-floor balcony. An investigation is ongoing.

To head off such tragedies, some towns have taken safety precautions. Cancun braced itself for the onslaught of thousands of American college students by dispatching marines and soldiers to tourist zones and distributing fliers advising them to avoid behavior that could get them arrested (more on that later), according to the Associated Press.

The State Department has posted tips for young adults on its website called "Spring Break in Mexico: Know Before You Go!"

Tip No. 1: Drugs: Buying, bringing or possessing illegal drugs could mean getting locked up without bail for a year before your case is even heard. And people 16 years and older are tried as adults.

Tip No. 2: Drinking: Alcohol figures prominently in the majority of arrests, accidents and violent crimes, such as rape and killing. And getting drunk might make you do something crazy like hop on a bus without paying or make obscene remarks in public, both of which could get you arrested.

Tip No. 3: Documents: Since 2010, a passport or passport card is required for entering Mexico. Also, it's best to request an entry permit called the Forma Migratoria Multiple at an immigration checkpoint, even if officials haven't told you to do so. Authorities may ask to see it during your visit.

Tip No. 4: Beaches: Watch for safety warnings of rough seas. If black or red flags are displayed, stay out of the water. It's best to swim where there's a lifeguard (and that applies to swimming pools too). The agency warns of undertow and rip tides in some areas of Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, Mazatlan and the southern coast of Oaxaca.

Tip No. 5: Taxis: Stick with licensed taxis known as "sitios." Unlicensed cab drivers could be criminals who plan to rob, rape or kidnap you.

The State Department also sketches out areas where young people should be "vigilant in their personal safety." In Acapulco, it says, drug-related violence has been on the rise. One of the most high-profile crimes against tourists occurred in February when six Spanish women on vacation in a beachfront home were raped by a gang of masked gunmen.

The Spring Break post is separate from the November 2012 travel warning issued by the agency to warn Americans about areas of the country, state-by-state, that have been racked by drug cartel violence.
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