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State Department Issues Warning on Travel to Mexico

February 4, 2005

State Department Issues Warning on Travel to Mexico
February 4, 2005 – The U.S. Department of State issued a Public Announcement to alert U.S. citizens to the current security situation along the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border in the wake of increased violence among drug traffickers. Although the majority of travelers in the region visit without mishap, violent criminal activity, including murder and kidnapping, in Mexico’s northern border region has increased. The overwhelming majority of the victims of violent crime have been Mexican citizens. Nonetheless, U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk posed by the deteriorating security situation. This Public Announcement expires on April 25, 2005.

According to the Office of the Spokesman, violent criminal activity along the U.S.-Mexico border has increased as a product of a war between criminal organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics trade along the border. The leaders of several major criminal organizations have been arrested, creating a power vacuum. This has resulted in a wave of violence aimed primarily at members of those trafficking organizations and criminal justice officials. However, foreign visitors, including Americans, have been among the victims of homicides and kidnappings in the border region in recent months.

The Department of State reports that Mexico’s police forces suffer from lack of funds and training, and the judicial system is weak, overworked, and inefficient. Criminals, armed with an impressive array of weapons, know there is little chance they will be caught and punished. In some cases, assailants have been wearing full or partial police uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles, indicating some elements of the police might be involved.

U.S. citizens are urged to be especially aware of safety and security concerns when visiting the border region. The majority of the thousands of U.S. citizens who cross the border each day do so safely, exercising common-sense precautions such as visiting only the legitimate business and tourism areas of border towns during daylight hours. It is strongly recommended that red-light districts and neighborhoods where street drug dealing occurs be avoided.

Americans living or traveling in Mexico are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website, http://travelregistration.state.gov/, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Mexico.

Updated information on travel and security for Mexico may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the U.S., or from overseas, 1-317-472-2328.

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