Spring break in Mexico: What to know about ‘do not travel’ warnings

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The State Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety have each warned Americans to skip spring break vacations in Mexico, noting that ongoing violence poses a significant safety threat.

The warning comes in the wake of the kidnapping of four Americans in Mexico earlier this month. There’s a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for Tamaulipas, the Mexican state the Americans were in when they were kidnapped. 

The State Department issued its travel alert for this year’s spring break on Monday. The advisory notes spring breakers who do visit Mexico should be wary of crime in the downtown areas of Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum, especially after dark.

Visitors should also be careful about any medication and alcohol purchased in Mexico. American citizens have passed out and become injured after drinking possibly tainted alcohol in Mexico, the advisory noted. 

“Counterfeit medication is common and may prove to be ineffective, the wrong strength, or contain dangerous ingredients,” the State Department said. 

The warning from Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw focused on violent crime. 

“Drug cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat to anyone who crosses into Mexico right now,” McCraw said Friday. “We have a duty to inform the public about safety, travel risks and threats. Based on the volatile nature of cartel activity and the violence we are seeing there, we are urging individuals to avoid travel to Mexico at this time.”

The State Department lists six Mexican states under its Level 4 advisory: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas. There are also seven states under the “Level 3: Reconsider Travel” advisory: Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos and Sonora.

“Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico,” the State Department warns in their advisory. “The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico, as travel by U.S. government employees to certain areas is prohibited or restricted. In many states, local emergency services are limited outside the state capital or major cities.”

Mexico is a popular destination for spring break travel this year, according to AAA. Beach vacations are the most popular. 

In Mexico, spring break travelers are most likely to visit Cancun, Riviera Maya or Mexico City, according to AAA. Those areas are under State Department’s “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To” advisories. 

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