State Department Issues New Travel Warning For Mexico Over Violence, Crime Threat

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — The U.S. State Department issued a new travel warning Tuesday for people planning to visit certain parts of Mexico.

The State Department said U.S. citizens have been the victims of violent crimes – including kidnapping, carjacking, robbery and even homicide in certain Mexican states.

As CBS2’s Valerie Castro reported, the travel warning raised concerns about two specific popular tourist areas known for family friendly resorts.

The white sand beaches and enticing all-inclusive resorts in Mexico are an easy vacation destination. The warning includes two Mexican states with popular locales including Cancún, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Los Cabos.

Gun battles between rival gangs or with Mexican authorities have taken place on streets in public places and in broad daylight, the State Department warned.

U.S. citizens have been murdered in carjackings and highway robberies – frequently at night and on isolated roads, the State Department said. U.S. citizens should use toll roads whenever possible, and are warned that there is little or no cellphone service in remote areas.

In January, five people were killed during a music festival at a nightclub in Playa del Carmen.

Kidnappings can take multiple forms – traditional, where a victim is abducted and held for ransom; express, where a victim is abducted for a short time and commonly released after withdrawing money from an ATM; and virtual, where a victim is contacted by phone, coerced into providing the numbers of family and friends, and then isolated until a ransom is paid.

George Hobica is the founder of travel website AirFareWatcher.com. He advised travelers to the affected areas to stick to their resorts.

‘”There are a lot of great resorts that are all inclusive. They include food and booze and all the other stuff,” he said. “I just wouldn’t venture outside. Just enjoy the beaches, enjoy the entertainment.”

As for canceling a trip, Hobica said the warning did not go that far.

“This was not a do not go,” he said.

Late Tuesday, travelers at Newark International Airport said the warning is something to keep in mind.

“Maybe lay off Cancun for now — safety comes first,” said Chioma Somiari.

Others said violence can happen anywhere.

“I’m heading myself to Spain right now, so I know that there’s recently been some issues there as well, and they’re on elevated alert as well,” said Danny Mendez. “But it’s not going to deter me.”

“I’ve always known about the problems in Mexico, and to me, nothing is different today than it was yesterday,” said Joe Jackson.

The Mexican government does dedicate substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations and is fighting drug gangs and other criminal organizations, and there is no evidence that U.S. citizens are being targeted for their nationality, the State Department said.

Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see drug-related violence and crime seen in border areas and major trafficking routes, the State Department said.

For more information, including a state-by-state breakdown of potentially risky areas in Mexico, click here.

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