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State Department Warns Americans Not To Travel To Five Mexican States

Mexican journalist Javier Valdez lies on the street after he was shot dead in Sinaloa, Mexico, on May 15, 2017. The U.S. State Department is telling Americans to completely avoid five Mexican states because of rising crime and violence.

The U.S. State Department is warning Americans not to travel to five Mexican states, issuing a "do not travel" advisory.

"Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread," the State Department said in the notice Thursday.

As a result, the department says the frequency of the attacks by criminal organizations in the states of Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan, Guerrero and Tamaulipas has "limited the U.S. government's ability to provide emergency services to citizens in the states." And, in many cases, not even Mexican officials can do much to protect or prevent the widespread scourge of lawlessness against American travelers.

Armed groups frequently maintain roadblocks in many areas of Guerrero. A number of Mexico's most violent criminal organizations are based in and operate out of Sinaloa. The streets of Tamualipas are often the scene of gang-led gun battles, while armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments.

But not all parts of Mexico are covered under the warning. Sixteen of the country's 32 states received a level-two "exercise caution" warning, the department's second-lowest advisory. Citizens were told to "reconsider travel" to another 11 states.

Mexico reached record levels of deadly violence in 2017, making it the bloodiest year in the country's modern history, notes The Guardian. The first 11 months of the year brought 23,101 murder investigations, surpassing the 22,409 registered in the whole of 2011, when the country was in the depths of rampant inter-cartel warfare, says Business Insider.

And as NPR's Carrie Kahn reports, outside of global conflict zones, Mexico takes the No. 1 spot for journalists murdered in 2017. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders says Mexico is the "Western Hemisphere's deadliest country for the media."

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