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USA issues travel warning to 5 Mexican states

USA issues travel warning to 5 Mexican states

The five include the northern border state of Tamaulipas and the Pacific coast states of Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero.

The State Department has issued a new, strict "do not travel" advisory for US citizens regarding five Mexican states because of violent crime and gang activity.

The State Department had earlier asked the U.S. citizens to not travel to all or part of those states, but this time the warnings are stricter as they have been placed on a level 4 - the same category given to war-torn Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.

Reuters report indicates that at least a dozen politicians, officials and candidates for elected office have been killed in states in recent months, where there are struggles between criminal groups for the control of drug trafficking routes.

The state of Sinaloa has been a crime spot but since the 2016 arrest of the drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and its successful extradition to the USA, the region has witnessed a surge in the violence rate with the drug cartels battling to set their empire. Michoacan was so dominated by a drug cartel that vigilantes took up arms in 2013 to drive them out.

Preliminary figures suggest that Mexico had a record number of murders in 2017.

An additional 11 states were slapped with Level 3 warnings, urging Americans to "reconsider travel" there because of crime and gang activity.

However, the rate of homicide in Colima has seen a serious increase in recent years rising to Mexico's most risky states with 83.3 murders per 100,000 inhabitants last year due to the expansion of drug organizations such as the Jalisco Nueva Generacion Cartel.

Overall, the country received a Level 2 rating, which urges Americans to "exercise increased caution" and notes that "violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread".

The latest advisory threatens to further hurt Mexican tourism, a $20 billion industry accounting for about 7% of the country's GDP.

According to the New York Times, the Mexican government's Mexico Tourism Board said in a statement that "Mexico's major global tourism destinations have been explicitly listed as having no travel restrictions".

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.

In November, Mexico's Minister of Tourism, Enrique de la Madrid, walked a fine line in acknowledging a crime problem in Mexico while trying to promote tourism. "We just want to send a signal, which is true, that our destinations are a safe place to visit".

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