U.S. issues Travel Warning for parts of Mexico

- The U.S. Department of State is warning Americans about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico because of rampant and often brutal violence and crime. Officials have issued a new Travel Warning saying that violent crime -- including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – has targeted U.S. citizens in several Mexican states.

"Gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place on streets and in public places during broad daylight," the State Department said in the warning. "The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations and has engaged in an extensive effort to counter criminal organizations that engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico."

The State Department is particularly concerned about the possibility of Americans being caught in the crossfire between rival criminal organizations, even in relatively safe areas such as beach resorts in Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, and Tulum.

"While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens," the warning said. "Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured or killed, have occurred."

Although crime can happen anywhere, certain states in Mexico are more dangerous than others, according to the Travel Warning. The State Department outlined details in its state-by-state assessment.

The State Department suggests American tourists sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), a free service that lets you register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. Enrolling in STEP lets you get the latest safety alerts for the country you are traveling to and also allows the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency.

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