A curt travel advisory issued Thursday by the U.S. State Department told Americans not to visit five states in Mexico, all coastal areas the U.S. said has seen an uptick in violent gang-related drug crimes. Those states are Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, Michoacán, Guerrero, and Colima.
The notice added that federal employees are banned from visiting these areas, and that the U.S. government has “limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico.” Government workers are also banned from driving to the U.S.-Mexico border, regardless of whether they’re driving to or from the U.S., with the exception of daytime travel on Highway 15 between Nogales and Hermosillo.
The “do not travel” notice, considered a “Level 4” alert, is the highest warning level issued for international travel (Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen are all similarly classified as a Level 4 danger). Included in the State Department notice was a “reconsider travel” alert for 11 additional Mexican states, the equivalent of a Level 3 warning. It’s part of a new numerical ranking system the State Department rolled out this week, which attempts to create a more uniform and consistent travel warning notification system instead of a series of sporadic alerts.
The monthly homicide rate in Mexico recently hit a 20-year high—2,186 people were murdered in May of last year alone. Analysts have observed that part of the increase in drug-related violent crime stems from the increased production and trafficking of heroin to meet demand in the U.S.