At least for Americans, Spring Break has become practically synonymous with scenes of carefree college students letting loose on idyllic Mexican beaches, and inextricably linked with popular coastal destinations like Los Cabos, Cancun and Cozumel.
But, this year, the situation south of the border isn’t looking so good. In fact, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) issued an advisory this week cautioning residents against all travel to Mexico during the mid-semester school holiday period “and beyond”, ABC News reported.
“Drug cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat to anyone who crosses into Mexico right now,” Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said in a statement on Friday. “We have a duty to inform the public about safety, travel risks and threats. 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.”
The U.S. State Department also updated its own Mexico travel advisory earlier this month in light of such increased risks. In a state-by-state breakdown, the federal agency slapped its strongest possible “do not travel” warning on six Mexican states—Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas—due to crime, kidnapping or both. Out of Mexico’s 32 states, only two hold the department’s lowest-level warning label of “exercise normal precautions”: Campeche and Yucatan.
It even did so a week before the now well-known kidnapping of four Americans in Matamoros, two of whom were rescued, while the remaining two were found dead, on March 7. The city where they were abducted, allegedly by members of the Gulf Cartel, is located in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, which had already been categorized by the U.S. government as a “Do Not Travel” zone, due to the heightened risk of crime and kidnapping.
According to a KTLA report, experts say that multiple resort destinations which have long been considered safe to visit may now be under the control of Mexican drug cartels. “There is a cartel presence in these resorts,” said Robert Almonte, a former U.S. marshal in the western district of Texas. He explained that cartels actually own some popular resort properties, using them as a way to launder money.
Despite all that, tourist data suggests that millions of U.S. travelers are still headed south for their spring vacations. A recent AAA release revealed international travel is up 30 percent this season over 2022 figures and that beach getaways remain the most popular among Spring Breakers. Specifically, AAA’s data points to Cancun, Riviera Maya and Mexico City as the top Spring Break destinations in Mexico for 2023.
The Lone Star State’s public safety department said, “DPS understands many people do travel to Mexico without incident, but the serious risks cannot be ignored,” the agency said. “All travelers are encouraged to carefully research any planned trips and, again, consider postponing or canceling travel to Mexico at this time.”
The Texas DPS advised anyone who does decide to travel to Mexico to register their plans with a U.S. embassy or consulate ahead of time. NPR reports that over 500 Americans currently remain missing in Mexico, along with tens of thousands of Mexican citizens.
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