U.S. Issues Unprecedented Warning About Travel to Mexico

The US State Department issued a travel warning on Wednesday advising Americans not to travel to five states in Mexico due to soaring rates of homicide.

Mexico recorded a record-breaking number of murders last year, making 2017 Mexico’s deadliest year on record.

According to the State Department’s travel advisory, “violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread.”

In addition to the five states the advisory recommends Americans “do not travel” to, the State Department advises travelers to either “reconsider travel” or use “increased caution” for all of Mexico.

Time reports:

The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning Wednesday advising Americans to avoid five states in Mexico, putting the regions at the same level of danger as war-torn Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.

The level 4 “do not travel” risk is the highest warning and applies to the Pacific coast states of Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero, and Tamaulipas on the eastern Gulf.

Guerrero has suffered from a long history of violence. In 2014, 43 students were abducted and killed in Guerrero state. Last week, a police shootout left 11 people dead. In the travel advisory, the State Department warns that, “Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers.”

Criminal organizations also operate heavily in the state of Sinaloa. In 2016, the infamous cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was arrested and extradited, but violence remains in the power vacuum of his drug empire.

Mexican states elevated to level 4 status include Colima, Guerrero, Michaoacán, Sinaloa, and Tamaulipas. The reason for the status change was listed as “crime” for all five states. Their level 4 advisory now puts them on par with war-zones when it comes to recommendations against travel by the State Department.

On the same day the advisory was announced, Mexico’s Interior Minister announced his resignation. Miguel Angel Osorio Chong served as Mexico’s Interior Minister since 2012, and attended to issues concerning security, migration and human rights.

Zero Hedge reports:

Less than two weeks after Mexico recorded its deadliest year on record, the Interior Minister of Mexico has decided to call it quits amid the out of control violence and soaring homicides.

Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said Wednesday he was resigning from his post with intentions to seek a Senate seat in the upcoming July elections. President Enrique Pena Nieto appointed Chong to the position in 2012, where he oversaw government tasks including security, migration and human rights. The president applauded Chong for his public service, despite the eruption of death and despair through most Mexican states. The president announced Labor Secretary Alfonso Navarrete, of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), would be the next in line as the Interior Minister.

The US State Department notes that in the five Mexican states whose advisory level was elevated, armed groups operate beyond the reach of government using roadblocks to stop and harm travelers.

In Tamaulipa, the advisory warned, murders, robberies, carjackings and kidnappings, extortion, sexual assault and gang activity are “common” and “widespread.”

Armed criminal groups throughout Mexico target travelers whom they kidnap for ransom.