U.S. State Department Issues Travel Warning For Mexico

The U.S. state department has issued a travel warning to all tourists and government officials traveling to certain areas in Mexico. The travel warning comes after many U.S. citizens have been victims of homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery in various Mexican states.

Major tourist areas, such as Cancun and Baja California, have been listed as particularly dangerous areas where tourists have been cautioned. Cancun has seen several deadly gang shootouts over the past few months, including one in a holiday resort where three taxi drivers died in a nightclub shootout. Witnesses said at least five armed men entered the bar, threatened customers, and shot a man in the head in an execution-style killing. He was believed to be the manager or owner. The attack followed another shootout at an electronic dance music festival in January where five security personnel were killed by a lone gunman.

The surge in violence across Mexico arrives after the arrest of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman last year. Through efficient drug trafficking to the U.S., bribing officials in all levels of government, and creating “armies” to take out rivals, Guzman had grown the Sinaloa cartel to be one of the “world’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations.”

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman arrived in New York under heavy escort by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). [Photo by Charles Reed/Getty Images]

Since his arrest in January 2016, Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel has been severely weakened. Rival gangs have been trying to fill the void, most prominently by the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel. The Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel (CJNG) was created as a faction of the Milenio cartel, which used to work for the Sinaloa cartel, in 2010 after the leader of the Sinaloa cartel at the time, Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, was killed by Mexican security forces. The death of the Sinaloa cartel’s leader and further factions within the Milenio cartel led to the creation of the CJNG. The CJNG has claimed responsibility for the nightclub shootout in Cancun.

The increase in gang violence has led to 2017 being the most murderous year for Mexico ever. Authorities in Cancun are bringing in experienced and decorated police officers from across Mexico to combat the increase in gang violence.

Tourism contributes to 9 percent of Mexico’s gross domestic product, and local businesses have seen a dramatic decrease in sales from tourism since the increase in gang violence started in January.

“Events are happening that weren’t common in this city,” Darwin Puc Acosta, the police chief of Cancun, told Bloomberg. “I sincerely don’t consider them alarming. They’re situations that can be resolved if they’re attended to properly. And that’s what we’re doing.”

The full travel warning, including a state-by-state assessment, can be read here.

[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]