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Messages for U.S. Citizens

Travel Alert

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs

This information is current as of today, Tue Apr 15 14:56:00 2008.

Mexico
April 14, 2008

This Travel Alert updates information for U.S. citizens on security situations in Mexico that may affect their activities while in that country.  This supersedes the Travel Alert for Mexico dated October 24, 2007, and expires on October 15, 2008.

Violence Along The U.S.-Mexico Border

Violent criminal activity fueled by a war between criminal organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics trade continues along the U.S.-Mexico border. Attacks are aimed primarily at members of drug trafficking organizations, Mexican police forces, criminal justice officials, and journalists.  However, foreign visitors and residents, including Americans, have been among the victims of homicides and kidnappings in the border region.  In its effort to combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed military troops in various parts of the country.  U.S. citizens are urged to cooperate with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways. Recent Mexican army and police force conflicts with heavily-armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades.   Confrontations have taken place in numerous towns and cities in northern Mexico, including Tijuana in the Mexican state of Baja California, and Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua.  The situation in northern Mexico remains very fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements there cannot be predicted. Armed robberies and carjackings, apparently unconnected to the narcotics-related violence, have increased in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez.  Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007.  Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas. 
 
Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons.  In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles. U.S. citizens are urged to be especially alert to safety and security concerns when visiting the border region. While Mexican citizens overwhelmingly are the victims of these crimes, this uncertain security situation poses risks for U.S. citizens as well.  Thousands of U.S. citizens cross the border safely each day, exercising common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas of border towns during daylight hours.  It is strongly recommended that travelers avoid areas where prostitution and drug dealing occur.

Criminals have followed and harassed U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles, particularly in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, and Tijuana.  There is no evidence, however, that U.S. citizens are targeted because of their nationality.
 
U.S. citizen victims of crime in Mexico are urged to contact the consular section of the nearest U.S. consulate or Embassy for advice and assistance. Crime and Violence in Mexico

U.S.
citizens residing and traveling in Mexico should exercise caution when in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times.  Violence by criminal elements affects many parts of the country, urban and rural, including border areas.  Though there is no evidence that U.S. citizens are specifically targeted, Mexican and foreign bystanders have been injured or killed in some violent attacks, demonstrating the heightened risk in public places.  In recent years, dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped in Mexico and many cases remain unresolved.  Moreover, new cases of disappearances and kidnap-for-ransom continue to be reported.

No one can be considered immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors.  U.S. citizens who believe they are being followed should notify Mexican officials as soon as possible.  U.S. citizens should make every attempt to travel on main roads during daylight hours, particularly the toll (“cuota”) roads, which are generally more secure.  It is preferable for U.S. citizens to stay in well-known tourist destinations and tourist areas of the cities with more adequate security, and provide an itinerary to a friend or family member not traveling with them. U.S. citizens should avoid traveling alone as a means to better ensure their safety.  Refrain from displaying expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items. Demonstrations occur frequently throughout Mexico and usually are peaceful.  However, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence unexpectedly.  Some deaths occurred during violent demonstrations, including an American citizen who died in the 2006 violence in Oaxaca.  During demonstrations or law enforcement operations, U.S. citizens are advised to remain in their homes or hotels, avoid large crowds, and avoid the downtown and surrounding areas.  Since the timing and routes of scheduled marches and demonstrations are always subject to change, U.S. citizens should monitor local media sources for new developments and exercise extreme caution while within the vicinity of protests.  The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation.  Therefore, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid participating in demonstrations or other activities that might be deemed political by Mexican authorities. 

For more detailed information on staying safe in Mexico, please see the Mexico Country Specific Information at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's internet web site at: http://travel.state.gov/ where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers from Mexico, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  American citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to register with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the State Department's travel registration website at: https://travelregistration.state.gov/.

For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. You may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at:
ccs@usembassy.net.mx. The Embassy's internet address is http://www.usembassy-mexico.gov.

Consulates:
Ciudad Juarez: Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-n, telephone (52)(656) 611-3000.
Guadalajara: Progreso 175, telephone (52)(333) 268-2100.
Hermosillo: Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (52)(662) 289-3500.
Matamoros: Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (52)(868) 812-4402.
Merida: Calle 60 no. 338 k, telephone (52)(999) 942-5700
Monterrey: Avenida Constitucion 411 Poniente, telephone (52)(818) 345-2120.
Nogales: Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (52)(631) 311-8150.
Nuevo Laredo: Calle Allende 3330, col. Jardin, telephone (52)(867) 714-0512.
Tijuana: Tapachula 96, telephone (52)(664) 622-7400.

Consular Agencies:
Acapulco: Hotel Continental Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121 - local 14, telephone (52)(744) 484-0300 or (52)(744) 469-0556.
Cabo San Lucas: Blvd. Marina local c-4, Plaza Nautica, col. Centro, telephone (52)(624) 143-3566. 
Cancún:  Plaza Caracol two, second level, no. 320-323, Boulevard Kukulcan, km. 8.5, Zona Hotelera, telephone (52)(998) 883-0272.
Ciudad Acuña:  Ocampo # 305, col. Centro, telephone (52)(877) 772-8661
Cozumel:  Plaza Villa Mar en el Centro, Plaza Principal, (Parque Juárez between Melgar and 5th ave.) 2nd floor, locales #8 and 9, telephone (52)(987) 872-4574.
Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo:  Hotel Fontan, Blvd. Ixtapa, telephone (52)(755) 553-2100.
Mazatlán:  Hotel Playa Mazatlán, Playa Gaviotas #202, Zona Dorada, telephone (52)(669) 916-5889.
Oaxaca:  Macedonio Alcalá no. 407, interior 20, telephone (52)(951) 514-3054 (52)(951) 516-2853.
Piedras Negras: Abasolo #211, Zona Centro, Piedras Negras, Coah. Tel. (878) 782-5586
Playa del Carmen:  “The Palapa,”  Calle 1 Sur, between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20, telephone (52)(984) 873-0303.
Puerto VallartaParadise Plaza, Paseo de los Cocoteros #1, Local #4, Interior #17, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, telephone (52)(322) 222-0069.
Reynosa:  Calle Monterrey #390, Esq. Sinaloa, Colonia Rodríguez, telephone: (52)(899) 923 - 9331
San Luis Potosí:  Edificio "Las Terrazas", Avenida Venustiano Carranza 2076-41, Col. Polanco, telephone: (52)(444) 811-7802/7803.
San Miguel de Allende:  Dr. Hernandez Macias #72, telephone (52)(415) 152-2357 or (52)(415) 152-0068.