Mexico Spring Break warning after kidnap of four Americans: US lists country on strongest possible “do not travel” alert
As spring breakers pack their bikinis and sunglasses to hit the beach in Mexico, the US government is urging citizens to avoid cartel hotspots amid a spike in violence.
Four Americans were kidnapped and two butchered Friday in the border town of Matamoros in the latest stark reminder that a bloody drug war rages behind the glamorous façade of the country’s sun-drenched resorts. But despite the spiraling cartel violence, travel agents are reporting a post-pandemic boom with bookings trebling on pre-2020 numbers.
US citizens headed for Cabo, Cancun and Tulum are warned to exercise ‘increased caution’ over crime and kidnapping, while those destined for Puerto Vallarta are urged to ‘reconsider travel’ as ‘violent crime and gang activity are common.’
Robert Almonte, a former US Marshal for the Western District of Texas and retired deputy chief with the El Paso Police Department, told DailyMail.com the State Department warnings do not go far enough because ‘the cartels are everywhere and anywhere in Mexico.’
In Quintana Roo, home to the tourist areas Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and the Riviera Maya, the government advice says US citizens should ‘exercise increased situational awareness after dark in downtown areas.’ It warns that violence can ‘occur in any location, at any time, including in popular tourist destinations.’ Kidnappings have occurred, the guidance states, and shootings between rival gangs have caught innocent victims in the crossfire.
Despite the advice for the region, ‘travel is back and better than ever,’ according to the owner of Winner Circle Travel Agency, Angel Taylor.
‘I feel like people are traveling more now post-pandemic than pre-pandemic,’ she told CBS.
Following the attack on US citizens in Matamoros, Taylor said some of her customers were concerned. However, she believes the country is largely safe.
‘I did have some clients reach out to me in a panic,’ Taylor said. ‘I reassured them, that the tourist areas like Cancun, Riviera Maya, those areas are safe for tourists. They’re staying at resorts, they’re not close to the border.’
Almonte told DailyMail.com that he was not not at all surprised that tourists were continuing to head to Mexico.
‘It does not surprise me. I am disappointed that they’re doing that in spite of all the recent incidents. I do a lot of training. I train police officers throughout the United States and a lot of them continue to go to the resorts in Mexico despite my warnings not to do so,’ the security expert said.
‘The bottom line is when someone makes the decision to go to Mexico for any reason, you’re basically risking your life. It’s just a dangerous place to be. I tell people don’t go to Mexico. I am advocating a boycott of Mexico. I am telling people do not go to Mexico. Do not go to the resorts. Let’s send a message to the Mexican government that they need to get a handle on this situation.
‘Right now they don’t care because it’s business as usual. It seems like we don’t care, we’re ignoring the situation.’
He said that the warnings from the State Department were welcome but do not go far enough because the entire country is dangerous.
‘The cartels are everywhere and anywhere in Mexico; they have checkpoints set up where you’ll get stopped and you need to pay a tax to get through and even with that you may still be abducted and held for ransom. So, people should not go to Mexico,’ he said.
‘Regarding the issue of spring break, yeah, I have been saying for a long time spring breakers should not go to Mexico for spring break. They’re risking their life.’ The ritzier destinations of Cabo and Puerto Vallarta, on the Pacific coast, are also under strict warnings. In the case of Cabo, located in California Sur, the State Department says people should exercise increased caution because of crime.
In Jalisco state, home to the popular destination, Puerto Vallarta, the government says that ‘violent crime and gang activity are common.’
‘In Guadalajara, territorial battles between criminal groups take place in tourist areas,’ the State Department says. ‘Shooting incidents between criminal groups have injured or killed innocent bystanders. US citizens have been victims of kidnapping.’
There are three highways in the state which are off limits for US government employees over security fears. A total of six states are under the most severe ‘do not travel’ warning: Guerrero, Colima, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas.
Tamaulipas is where two US citizens were found dead on Wednesday after two others were kidnapped with the pair.
Latavia ‘Tay’ McGee, her cousin Shaeed Woodard and their friends Zindell Brown and Eric Williams were said to be traveling south so McGee, a mother-of-five, could get a budget tummy tuck when they got caught in gunfire between two gangs.
Mexican officials confirmed they were all found in a stash house in the rural town of El Tecolote, six and half miles from Matamoros. At least one person has been arrested in connection with the incident. The surviving Americans were taken to the border near Brownsville, Texas, in a convoy of Mexican ambulances and SUVs Tuesday.
The White House denounced the kidnappings as ‘unacceptable’ and offered condolences to families of the victims.
‘We’re going to work closely with the Mexican government to ensure that justice is done in this case,’ White House national security spokesman John Kirby said. He told reporters that Washington was still learning about details of the incident from Mexican officials.
‘Right now our focus is very squarely on these four Americans and the families that have been affected by the attack,’ Kirby added.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday that the victims were believed to have entered the country to buy medicines and got caught up in a confrontation between criminal groups.
‘We’re very sorry that this is happening in our country,’ Lopez Obrador told reporters after the confirmation of the deaths.
State Department guidance for mexican states
DO NOT TRAVEL:
- COLIMA state due to crime and kidnapping.
- GUERRERO state due to crime.
- MICHOACAN state due to crime and kidnapping.
- SINALOA state due to crime and kidnapping
- TAMAULIPAS state due to crime and kidnapping.
- ZACATECAS state due to crime and kidnapping.
RECONSIDER TRAVEL TO:
- BAJA CALIFORNIA state due to crime and kidnapping.
- CHIHUAHUA state due to crime and kidnapping.
- DURANGO state due to crime.
- GUANAJUATO state due to crime and kidnapping.
- JALISCO state due to crime and kidnapping.
- MORELOS state due to crime.
- SONORA state due to crime and kidnapping.
EXERCISE INCREASED CAUTION:
- AGUASCALIENTES state due to crime.
- BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR state due to crime.
- CHIAPAS state due to crime.
- COAHUILA state due to crime.
- HIDALGO state due to crime.
- MEXICO CITY due to crime.
- MEXICO STATE due to crime.
- NAYARIT state due to crime.
- NUEVO LEON state due to crime and kidnapping.
- OAXACA state due to crime.
- PUEBLA state due to crime and kidnapping.
- QUERETARO state due to crime.
- QUINTANA ROO state due to crime and kidnapping.
- SAN LUIS POTOSI state due to crime and kidnapping.
- TABASCO state due to crime.
- TLAXCALA state due to crime.
- VERACRUZ state due to crime.