The Texas Department of Public Safety has urged residents to avoid spring break travel to Mexico, warning that drug cartel violence and other crime pose a significant safety threat.
“We have a duty to inform the public about safety, travel risks and threats,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw in a statement on Friday. “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.”
U.S. citizens who decide to travel to Mexico are encouraged to register with an embassy or consulate before they go, the Texas agency said.
The advisory follows the kidnapping of four Americans earlier this month in the Mexican city of Matamoros. The Americans were reportedly visiting for medical tourism when they were caught in the crossfire between rival cartel groups and abducted. Two of them were returned to the U.S., and two were found dead. A Mexican bystander was also killed.
One of the cartel groups in Matamoros apologized for the killings and handed over the men they say are responsible to police.
Tamaulipas, the state where Matamoros is located, is considered one of the most violent places in Mexico.
The State Department’s most recent travel advisory, from October 2022, lists Tamaulipas as one of six Mexican states under a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” advisory for crime and kidnapping. There are seven more under “Level Three: Reconsider Travel.”
More than 500 Americans — and tens of thousands of Mexicans — remain missing in Mexico.
However, popular tourist destinations like Cancún, Cabo San Lucas and Mexico City have a much lower advisory of “Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.” For comparison, the State Department has issued that advisory level for much of Western Europe, including France and the United Kingdom.
“DPS understands many people do travel to Mexico without incident, but the serious risks cannot be ignored,” the Texas DPS statement said. The department urged travelers to “carefully research any planned trips” and consider postponing or canceling upcoming trips to Mexico.