With many people planning to visit relatives in Mexico during the Christmas holidays, the U.S Department of State has issued a travel warning advising Americans not travel to certain areas of Mexico because of ongoing violence.
The advisory issued on Tuesday warns Americans to refrain from traveling to the state of Tamaulipas due to crime and kidnapping, and the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, and Sinaloa because of ongoing crime.
Matamoros, Reynosa and Nuevo Laredo are located in the state of Tamaulipas.
The State Department reports that the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas as travel by U.S. government employees in certain areas is either prohibited or significantly restricted.
Federal officials report organized criminal activity such as gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion and sexual assaults is common in the Tamaulipas area. Criminal organizations usually target public and private passenger buses as well private vehicles traveling through the state.
According to the Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) 2018 crime report for Tamaulipas, there were 1,472 recorded murders in Tamaulipas in 2018; most are directly due to Transnational Criminal Organizations violence. Additionally, there were 2,458 cases of aggravated assault reported in 2018, the State Department’s Overseas Security Advisor Council stated in a report, adding “since underreporting of crime is a major issue, and authorities do not track crime with any consistency, consider tallies (under)estimates at best.”
The State Department states criminal organizations are heavily armed and often take passengers hostage and demand ransom payments. Because members of the criminal organizations patrol the area in marked and unmarked vehicles “local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to crime incidents.”
Federal officials report these criminal organizations travel around the area “with impunity particularly along the border region from Reynosa northwest to Nuevo Laredo.”
U.S. government employees are only allowed to travel with a limited radius between the U.S. Consulates in Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo and their respective ports of entry. U.S. government employees also must observe curfews between midnight and 6 a.m. and on some highways may only travel during daylight hours.