The US tells citizens not to travel to five Mexican states

Tijuana Mexico. U.S.                      Justin Sullivan

The US state department has warned tourists to avoid traveling 5 states in Mexico because of rampant crime levels and gang activity.

"It's significant that the five tourist destinations that account for 80% of foreign tourist travel to Mexico (Cancún, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit and Mexico City) were not classified with restrictions for global travelers by the State Department", the statement said.

This announcement includes places in the states of Colima, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Guerrero at the same warning level as war-torn Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, the report said.

While the State Department has long recommended travelers exercise "increased caution" in Mexico in general because of widespread homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery, the new warning elevates the five states to level 4, the highest level of potential danger.

Mexico was given a level 2, or "exercise increased caution", putting it in in the same category with France, Spain and the United Kingdom.

A statement from the Secretary of Tourism of Mexico (Sectur) reported that 80 percent of the more popular foreign tourist destinations such as Cancun, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayari and Mexico City were not included in the travel advisory.

The advisory delivered a stark reminder of the formerly ritzy seaside resort city Acapulco fall from grace.

State Department personnel are not allowed to travel west of Eje Vial Juan Gabriel, and south of Boulevard Zaragoza, where the Juarez airport is located, after dark.

Tamaulipas has always been riven by turf wars between rival drug cartels, and Sinaloa is home to the cartel of the same name.

The country witnessed its deadliest year in 2017, registering a record number of murders in its modern history.

But an additional 11 Mexican states got a level-three warning, "reconsider travel".

The violence also spread to some popular tourist areas a year ago, like Quintana Roo, a state in Mexico's southeast that had several resort areas, and 134 homicides were registered in the state until August 2017.

Esponda said local officials and tourism operators are investing in increased security, including camera systems and the construction of a new marine base.

Mexico's tourism board has not issued a statement on the upgraded warnings.

"We are going to keep working very hard in 2018 to make sure that Los Cabos continues as a safe destination", Esponda said.

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