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Drug-related violence leads to US travel advisory on Mexico

25 April, 2007

The United States State Department has issued a travel advisory warning Americans of drug-related violence in many parts of Mexico, including states along the Texan border.

The warning comes in the wake of drug traffickers posting written death threats against government officials and their families. These threats were attached with ice picks to the bodies of murder victims.

According to US and Mexican officials, in March 2007, three bodies were found in the Monterrey area with messages accusing Nuevo León state authorities of favoring rival cartel groups and warning of retaliation against them and their families.

An official of the United States said the environment has never been this tense. Direct threats against government officials and their families are unusual in Mexico.

Mexican officials, while confirming the threats, reiterated President Felipe Calderón’s vow to crack down on drug traffickers.

Over 700 people have been killed in Mexico in battles among drug gangs so far this year. In 2006, more than 2,000 people lost their lives.

Since 2000, 33 journalists have been done to death or have disappeared in Mexico, making the country one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.

Officials on both sides of the border warned that violence in Mexico will continue to surge as the demand for drugs within Mexico grows. Traditionally, Mexican traffickers desisted from selling drugs to Mexican youths, choosing to focus on the drug demand in the US.

Two of the Mexican states listed in the US State Department’s travel advisory are on the Texan border – Nuevo León, especially in and around Monterrey, and Tamaulipas, particularly Nuevo Laredo. The travel advisory also includes the popular beach city of Acapulco.

While much of the violence is between rival drug cartels battling over control of drug routes into the United States and for emerging drug markets in Mexico, the US government has warned that foreigners also faced risks.

The US State Department said in the announcement, which replaces one issued in January 2007, that citizens of the United States should make every attempt to travel on main roads during daylight hours. The US citizens have also been asked to exercise all caution while in Mexico and remain vigilant for any situation that could become dangerous.

Nearly 50,000 Americans live in the Monterrey area, and 1,200 US businesses have investments there.



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