Mexican states get highest U.S. 'do not travel' warning

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United States Department warns US travelers to avoid five Mexican states which, like nations such as Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, are considered "very dangerous" for Americans.

The State Department says the US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to USA citizens in many places in Mexico.

Wednesday's travel advisory repeated those warnings, but issued both states Category 2 designations, calling for Americans to exercise increased caution but not stay away.

The latest advisory gives the five Mexican states the same warning level as risky travel destinations like Syria, Yemen and Somalia.

Officials cite continued murder, kidnaping and carjacking related to gang activity as the primary reason for the warning.

The advisory issued its second-lowest warning for several Mexican states including Baja California and Baja California Sur, advising Americans to "exercise increased caution due to crime".

Most of northern Mexico, including the border states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Sonora as well as Durango, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi, are under level 3 warnings.

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In Jalisco, a Level 3 state that is home to Guadalajara and the Puerto Vallarta resort, there are no stay restrictions on U.S. government employees. At least two resorts - Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Acapulco - were in Gurrero. Michoacan was so dominated by a drug cartel that vigilantes took up arms in 2013 to drive them out.

While the USA has discouraged travel to all or some of those states in the past, its new evaluation is sterner, giving the states its highest risk Category 4 warning. "This exception to tourism destinations highlights the fact that the vast majority of crimes in Mexico do not occur in areas frequented by global tourists", the board added.

Other destinations including Los Cabos and Acapulco also showed an increase in crime and violence.

In a statement, Mexico's Tourism Ministry noted that more than 28 of its most popular tourism destinations for worldwide travelers have no restrictions.

The state department warns that "in Guerrero state, armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas".

"We are going to keep working very hard in 2018 to make sure that Los Cabos continues as a safe destination", said Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board.

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