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Texas officials strongly advise against taking a trip south of the border for spring break this year, urging Texans to avoid travel to Mexico for the popular travel period and beyond, according to a Friday press release from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The Texas authorities warned residents to steer clear of Mexico amid the recent violence in the country. The travel notice comes just after four Americans were recently kidnapped in Mexico, with two ending up dead.
“Drug cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat to anyone who crosses into Mexico right now,” Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steven McCraw said. “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.”
In addition to this warning, federal officials urged any American citizen who doesn’t heed their warning to register with the American embassy or consulate prior to traveling. While the travel advice comes at the beginning of the spring break season, the Texas DPS said the warning applies “beyond” the vacation period as well.
The United States Department of State travel advisory on Mexico says, “Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common” in the country. The department has “Do Not Travel” warnings to six Mexican states – including Tamaulipas, where the four Americans were recently kidnapped. In addition, they warn Americans to “Reconsider Travel” to seven Mexican states and “Exercise Increased Caution” during travel in 17 states. The department says to “Exercise Normal Precautions” in just two states.
On March 3, four friends from South Carolina crossed the border into Matamoros in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, which borders the southernmost part of Texas. They were caught in a drug cartel shootout and forced into the back of a pickup truck at gunpoint.
Officials in Tamaulipas said that cartel members moved the victims throughout the state after the kidnapping to confuse and evade rescue efforts, The Daily Wire reported. Two of the Americans – Shaeed Woodard and Zindell Brown – did not survive.
The State Department travel advisory for Tamaulipas says, “Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers and demanding ransom payments.”
Additionally, three women who traveled from Texas to Montemorelos, Mexico, reportedly to sell goods at a flea market have been missing for roughly two weeks, according to authorities. They crossed into Mexico on February 24, NBC reports. In a statement, the FBI said it cannot comment on the “ongoing investigation” but “relentlessly pursues all options when it comes to protecting the American people, and this doesn’t change when they are endangered across the border.”