US State Department renews travel warnings on Mexico

Two survivors of a deadly abduction in Mexico are back on U.S. soil, officials said. They were brought to a hospital in Brownsville, Texas, on Tuesday.

Two other Americans were killed after the group got caught in a drug cartel shootout last week. Officials say the group was on a road trip to Mexico for one of them to get cosmetic surgery. The Americans were hauled away in a truck.

The region’s governor said Mexican authorities frantically searched as the cartel moved them around. They were eventually found Tuesday in a remote area near the Gulf coast in a wood shack.

From Acapulco to the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico has always been a popular vacation destination for Americans. But in recent years, a number of American visitors have either gotten caught in the middle of deadly violence between competing drug cartels or been subjected to kidnapping.

And now that college spring break is here, there’s debate over whether spring breakers should spend their vacation in Mexico. The reaction in Jacksonville Beach was mixed.

“I would be staying away from there man. Mexico has always been a dangerous place,” said college student Logan Dortar.

“You don’t want to hear about someone losing their life on vacation. But you would always be careful where you’re going and be mindful about where you’re going,” said Ishmail Gray, who recently vacationed in Mexico.

“I personally at this moment in time would not go to Mexico for spring break,” Rachel McDonald, a college student, told us.

Should a person decide to spend their vacation in Mexico, they should pay close attention to the U.S. State Department travel advisory, which was first issued in October 2022 and warnings were re-issued March 3, just four days before the kidnappings.

It lists areas to avoid and areas to reconsider due to violent crime and the threat of being kidnapped. It also lists areas to exercise increased caution.

Even in popular beach destinations such as Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Acapulco, tourists are being warned about drug cartel activity that includes gun violence and kidnapping.

Odyssey travel agent Jeannie Smith says travel agencies will usually only send clients to resorts that they know have excellent security. But she says if you plan to venture outside the resort, you need to make necessary precautions.

“I always advise my clients that if you’re in a resort, and you want to go somewhere, try and take an excursion to that place rather than renting a car and going on your own. I would not advise that at all,” Smith said.

She also advises going out with a large group of people instead of going out by yourself or one other person.

Travel experts also advise against advertising how much money you have or your financial worth. Doing so, Smith says, makes you a target for pickpocketing — as well as other crimes.

Smith says there is also a form you can complete before you leave the U.S. that lets the consulate know where you plan to stay.

“If they hear anything going on and they know you are and where you are staying, they can notify you,” Smith said.

A State Department record on the number of American deaths in Mexico during the last three years revealed more than 400 deaths as a result of accidents, homicides, and suicides.

About the Author:

Award-winning broadcast and multimedia journalist with 20 years experience.