Rising Violence in Mexico: A Cautionary Tale for Spring Break Travelers
As spring break quickly approaches, the U.S. government is issuing unprecedented warnings to American travelers. Previously, vacationers venturing to Mexico were often advised to stay in tourist areas and resorts for safety. However, recent reports indicate an alarming uptick in violence and kidnappings within these regions. The escalating danger has been linked to drug cartels, some of which evidently spill across the border. With more than 60 cartel-related arrests in the U.S since the beginning of 2022, it’s clear that the situation is heating up.
Cartel Arrests: An Overview
To gauge the level of cartel activity in America, it’s helpful to examine where the arrests have taken place. More than 3,100 people have been arrested or charged due to cartel involvement, highlighting the pervasiveness of the issue. An investigation by correspondent Robert Sherman investigating from El Paso, Texas, provides a close look at the situation.
Robert Sherman’s Report
Speaking to reporters from the border, Sherman remarked on the unsettling reality of cartel activity south of the border. Much of the current unrest traces back to the cartels, prompting the U.S. State Department to re-emphasize specific travel restrictions and guidance for Americans who might be traveling to Mexico in the coming weeks, especially during the spring break holidays.
Examining a map of Mexico reveals specific states that present an elevated risk. Six states show ‘Do Not Travel’ guidance issued by the U.S. State Department. Additionally, several areas along the U.S-Mexico border warrant reconsideration of travel plans.
Several spring break destinations, such as Cabo and Cancun, have also been flagged. The State Department recommends exercising increased caution for travelers making the trip to these areas. While traditionally viewed as tourist havens, these regions have witnessed an increase in crime and violence in the recent period.
New Battles in Old War: Recent Developments
Recent weeks have seen a surge of cartel-related activities. The arrest of El Chapo’s son, Iván Archivaldo Guzmán, has shaken the underworld landscape. However, the ripple effects of this eventful arrest do not stop there. Reports of a priest killed in Western Mexico and the cancellation of a concert due to threats of violence are reinforcing the narrative of escalating insecurity.
Security professionals argue that local law enforcement is dwindling in its effectiveness against these murky underworld forces, giving criminals free reign in too many cases.
Corruption and Ineffectiveness within Mexican Government
“The Mexican government has been largely ineffective in keeping the cartel violence down,” says an anonymous security expert, highlighting a rampant issue undermining efforts to bring an end to cartel-related unrest. Widespread corruption within the Mexican police departments, often infiltrated by criminal organizations, complicate attempts to curb violence. Some units have even been disbanded due to proven connections to illicit bodies.
The Real-life Impact and the State of American Safety Abroad
The bottom line in this dire situation is that American citizens abroad, in this case in Mexico, are at risk. In 2018, there were more reported murders of American travelers in Mexico. This fact emphasizes the urgency of the situation and the need for government agencies to secure safety for their citizens venturing abroad.
As spring break approaches and more Americans contemplate a quick trip to the sun-kissed beaches of Mexico, it would be wise to consider the forewarnings issued by the government and take appropriate precautions. History has shown the devastating results of overlooking such guidance. No vacation, however tempting, is worth compromising personal safety and security.