Wednesday, April 27, 2011

U.S. warns on travel to five more Mexican states

(Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Friday broadened its travel warning on Mexico to include parts of five additional states, including a highway where suspected drug gangs shot two U.S. customs officials in February.

The warning advises U.S. government personnel and American citizens to defer nonessential travel in certain parts of Jalisco, Nayarit, San Luis Potosi, Sonora and Zacatecas.

It outright bans U.S. employees from traveling to Colotlan and Yahualica, two cities in the central-west state of Jalisco near the Zacatecas border due to increasing drug gang violence.

  "Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival transnational criminal organizations involving automatic weapons," the State Department warning said.

The restrictions were added to a previous warning against travel throughout the states of Tamaulipas and Michoacan and to parts of the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango and Sinaloa.

Gunmen shot dead an unarmed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent and wounded another on February 15 on a highway in San Luis Potosi in a daylight attack that outraged U.S. officials and put a strain on join U.S.-Mexican efforts to battle drug cartels.

The State Department advised against travel on that road, Highway 57D, a major north south route toward Monterrey, Mexico's commercial capital.

The latest warning also provides more specific information on travel in northern Mexico where drug gang wars have been most violent, naming cities and towns that require particular caution. For example, it says U.S. government officials are required to travel only in armored vehicles and in daylight hours in Sinaloa parts of the city of Nogales.

More than 36,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led crackdown on drug gangs in 2006. Mexico last month revealed that it is allowing unmanned U.S. drone aircraft into its airspace to hunt for drug traffickers.

The warning can be seen at: here. 

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