The US Department of State on Wednesday, 10 January, issued "do not travel" advisories for five Mexican states, warning its citizens to completely avoid these regions.
Tamaulipas on the US border and Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacan and Guerrero on the Pacific coast have been put under the most dangerous places, mostly because they either host trafficking routes or have widespread drug-crop cultivation.
The State Department had earlier asked the US citizens to not travel to all or part of those states, but this time the warnings are stricter as they have been placed on a level 4 – the same category given to war-torn Somalia, Afghanistan and Syria due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.
The state of Sinaloa has been a crime spot but since the 2016 arrest of the drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and its successful extradition to the US, the region has witnessed a surge in the violence rate with the drug cartels battling to set their empire.
Guerrero is also among those places, which has witnessed lawlessness for years. But it reached the height of notoriousness in 2014 after 43 students went missing since 26 September 2014, when they were abducted in the city of Iguala in Guerrero state.
The federal government alleged police officers from Iguala and the nearby town of Cocula illegally detained the students and turned them over to a local drug gang called the Guerreros Unidos, which then allegedly killed them. But the victims' families believe there is more to the story.
With its 31 states, Mexico as a whole has a level-2 rating, which means people travelling to the country should be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. But on Wednesday, an additional 11 states got a level-3 rating, placing half of the North American country under level-3 or 4 warnings.
The border states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Sonora as well as Durango, Zacatecas and San Luis Potosi are the ones that have been placed under level-3 warnings, FOX 5 reported.
Los Angeles Times reports that the advisory is the proof of the surging violence in Mexico, which has claimed nearly 22,409 lives in 2017 – more than any year since 1997 when the government start releasing crime data.
Meanwhile, the US tourism secretariat issued a statement on Tuesday stating Mexico's five main destinations are safe to travel. They are Cancun, the Mayan Riviera, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta-Riviera Nayarit and Mexico City.
The statement also mentioned that the crime statistics and violence used for the evaluation "are not related to incidents that directly affected foreign visitors".