Aug 21, 2013 7:12 PM by Lupita Murillo

Travel Warning in effect for parts of Mexico

NOGALES AZ.- A new travel warning in Mexico. It alerts the public that drug cartel violence has moved-into areas frequented by tourists. The State Department issued a state by state assessment of the risks. It included the state of Sonora.

The text of the warning letter from the State Department can been seen in its entirety at the bottom of this story.

Nogales, Puerto Penasco, Hermosillo , and San Carlos are major travel destinations. Those are some of the areas Leslie Boring sells Mexico auto insurance to travelers. She works for Sanborn's and just learned of the July travel warning. " It does concern me, it will affect if it hasn't already affected the traveling into Mexico.>

The Mexican government is targeting drug cartels and because of that the State Department is warning travelers along the border. They suggest exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern border region. Travel only during the daytime, use toll roads and keep a low profile by not wearing expensive jewelry.

Albert Mendez was unaware of the Travel Warning. He's from Idaho and on his way to Mexico for a family funeral. "It's scary. But I think watching the news , and everything that's been going on within the last few years we're aware of the dangers ."
His sister, Maria Moreno lives in Phoenix. "We go to Rocky Point all the time with the kids we travel into Mexico every chance we get and I'm not worried at all."

University of Arizona students were also unaware of the Travel Warning. Their opinions varied. Vaia Overherdt says, she not concerned about traveling into Mexico, " We to the touristy parts of Mexico it doesn't affect it."

Tyler Browne says, "Obviously we need to be a little more careful " Whitnee Western says, "It's a little scary especially being a young girl going into Mexico, I don't think I would want to go."

Here's the full text of the travel warning from the State Department: Travel Warning

For travel information, call 888-407-4747.
Internet Address:
United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
July 12, 2013
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Mexico. General information on the overall security situation is provided immediately below. For information on security conditions in specific regions of Mexico, which can vary, travelers should reference the state-by-state assessments further below.
This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Mexico dated November 20, 2012 to consolidate and update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government (USG) personnel.
General Conditions:
Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. More than 20 million U.S. citizens visited Mexico in 2012. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality. Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that is reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes.
Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter TCOs which engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico. The TCOs themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity. Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to criminal activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking and highway robbery. While most of those killed in narcotics-related violence have been members of TCOs, innocent persons have also been killed. The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico was 113 in 2011 and 71 in 2012.
Gun battles between rival TCOs or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, especially in the border region. Gun battles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs. During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. TCOs have used stolen cars, buses and trucks to create roadblocks on major thoroughfares, preventing the military and police from responding to criminal activity. The location and timing of future armed engagements is
unpredictable. We recommend that you defer travel to the areas indicated in this Travel Warning and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the northern border region.
The number of kidnappings and disappearances throughout Mexico is of particular concern. Both local and expatriate communities have been victimized. In addition, local police have been implicated in some of these incidents. We strongly advise you to lower your profile and avoid displaying any evidence of wealth that might draw attention.
Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region, and U.S. citizens have been murdered in such incidents. Most victims who complied with carjackers at these checkpoints have reported that they were not physically harmed. Carjackers have shot at vehicles that fail to stop at checkpoints. Incidents have occurred during the day and at night, and carjackers have used a variety of techniques, including bumping/moving vehicles to force them to stop and running vehicles off the road at high speeds. There are some indications that criminals have particularly targeted newer and larger vehicles, especially dark-colored SUVs. However, victims driving a variety of vehicles, from late model SUVs to old sedans have also been targeted. While violent incidents have occurred at all hours of the day and night on both modern toll highways ("cuotas") and on secondary roads, they have occurred most frequently at night and on isolated roads. To reduce risk, if absolutely necessary to travel by road, we strongly urge you to travel between cities throughout Mexico only during daylight hours, to avoid isolated roads, and to use toll roads whenever possible. The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat the TCOs. U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways may encounter government checkpoints, which are often staffed by military personnel or law enforcement personnel. TCOs have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints, at times wearing police and military uniforms, and killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them. You should cooperate at all checkpoints.
The U.S. Mission in Mexico imposes restrictions on U.S. government employees' (U.S. citizens working at the Embassy and the nine consulates throughout Mexico) travel that have been in place since July 15, 2010. USG employees and their families are not permitted to drive for personal reasons from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior of Mexico or Central America. Personal travel by vehicle is permitted between Hermosillo and Nogales but is restricted to daylight hours and the Highway 15 toll road ("cuota").
USG personnel and their families are prohibited from personal travel to all areas to which it is advised to "defer non-essential travel". When travel for official purposes is essential, it is conducted with extensive security precautions. USG personnel and their families are allowed to travel for personal reasons to the areas where no advisory is in effect or where the advisory is to exercise caution. While the general public is not forbidden from visiting places categorized under "defer non-essential travel," USG personnel will not be able to respond quickly to an emergency situation in those areas due to security precautions that must be taken by USG personnel to travel to those areas.
For more information on road safety and crime along Mexico's roadways, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
State-by-State Assessment:
Sonora: Nogales, Puerto Peñasco, Hermosillo, and San Carlos are major cities/travel destinations in Sonora - see map to identify their exact locations: U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco should exercise caution and use the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing, in order to limit driving through Mexico. You should defer non-essential travel between the city of Nogales and the cities of Sonoyta and Caborca (which area also includes the smaller cities of Saric, Tubutama, and Altar), defer non-essential travel to the eastern edge of the State of Sonora which borders the State of Chihuahua (all points along that border east of the northern city of Agua Prieta and the southern town of Alamos), and defer non-essential travel within the city of Ciudad Obregon and southward with the exception of travel to Alamos (traveling only during daylight hours and using only the Highway 15 toll road, or "cuota", and Sonora State Road 162). Sonora is a key region in the international drug and human trafficking trades, and can be extremely dangerous for travelers. The region west of Nogales, east of Sonoyta, and from Caborca north, including the towns of Saric, Tubutama and Altar, and the eastern edge of Sonora bordering Chihuahua, are known centers of illegal activity. Travelers throughout Sonora are encouraged to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours.

Chihuahua: Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua City, and Copper Canyon are major cities/travel destinations in Chihuahua - see map to identify their exact locations: You should defer non-essential travel to the state of Chihuahua. In Ciudad Juarez, personal travel by USG employees outside the northeast portion of the city (the area near the Consulate General) is restricted. Although homicides have decreased markedly-from a high of 3,100 homicides in 3010 to 749 in 2012-Ciudad Juarez still has one of the highest homicide rates in Mexico. Crime and violence remain serious problems throughout the state of Chihuahua, particularly in the southern portion of the state and in the Sierra Mountains, including Copper Canyon. U.S. citizens do not, however, appear to be targeted based on their nationality.


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