Cancun Travel Advisory: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Getty Police officer in Cancun

The US State Department is warning American citizens to “exercise increased caution” when traveling in Mexico due to high levels of crime in the country. You can read the full State Department warning here.

The State Department warning also reminds citizens that US government workers are forbidden to enter certain areas of Mexico — which means that the US government would be hard pressed to reach US citizens in trouble. The warning reads, “The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico as U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to these areas.”

Cancun is not one of the areas that’s off-limits to the US government. The State Department is calling Cancun a “level two” alert, urging US citizens to exercise increased caution but not ordering them to stay away. However, a recent horrific crime in Cancun may discourage many people from traveling to the popular vacation destination.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Mexican Authorities Say They Have Found Eight Bodies in Cancun This Week Alone

Mexican federal police stand guard in Cancun

By Wednesday — not even halfway through the week — Mexican authorities were reporting that they had found eight dead bodies dumped on the streets of Cancun. On Tuesday morning, the bodies of a dead man and woman were found stuffed into a taxi in Paseos de Mar. Neither body has been identified.

Also Tuesday, authorities discovered dismembered body parts belonging to two men stuffed in plastic bags
Four other men were found dead in various parts of Cancun. One man was discovered tied up with a gunshot wound. Another man was killed while lying in a hammock, and another man was found shot and covered in a plastic bag. The eighth victim was found in the Tres Reyes neighborhood, decapitated.

2. The State Department Says Quintana Roo State, Where Cancun Is Located, Has Experienced an Uptick in Violent Crimes, Including in Tourist Areas

Resort in Cancun

The State Department is not including Quintana Roo in its list of the most dangerous parts of Mexico. There were some news reporters earlier saying that the State Department had issued the latest travel advisory in response to the violence in Cancun, but the State Department clarified on Thursday that the advisory was issued in response to recent events in Ciudad Juarez.

But the US government is warning that there has been an increase in violent crime in Quintana Roo in recent months. The travel advisory calls on citizens to “exercise increased caution due to crime” when visiting Quintana Roo state.

The warning also reads, “According to Government of Mexico statistics, the state experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to the same period in 2016. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents injuring or killing bystanders have occurred.

“There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees for travel in Quintana Roo state, which includes tourist areas such as: Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and the Riviera Maya.”

3. The State Department Is Urging US Citizens Not to Travel at All to Tamaulipas State Due to a High Risk of Violent Crime, Kidnapping, and Sexual Assault

Parts of Mexico have received a “level 4” warning from the State Department. This means that the government is urging US citizens not to travel at all to those areas. Tamaulipas State is one of the areas which the State Department is telling citizens not to visit. The warning reads,

“Do not travel due to crime. Violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, is common. Gang activity, including gun battles, is widespread. Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state.

U.S. government employees are subject to movement restrictions and a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m. U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Tamaulipas.”

4. US Citizens Are Also Urged Not to Visit Sinaloa State, Where There Are High Levels of Violent Crime and Criminal Gang Activity

TOPSHOT – A lightning bolt strikes in Culiacan, Sinaloa State, Mexico, early on August 18, 2018. (Photo by RASHIDE FRIAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read RASHIDE FRIAS/AFP/Getty Images)

Sinaloa State has also been assigned a “level four” warning, and American citizens are urged to avoid travel to the state. Tourists who wish to visit historical sites in Mazatlan are urged to stick to the most direct routes to and from cruise ship terminals and airports. US citizens are also reminded that US government employees do not have freedom of movement in Sinaloa State — which makes it more of a challenge for the US government to come to the aid of any US citizen who fall in harm’s way.

The warning for Sinaloa reads,

“Do not travel due to crime. Violent crime is widespread. Criminal organizations are based and operating in Sinaloa state.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel in most areas of the state. In areas where travel is permitted, the following restrictions are in place:
Mazatlan: U.S. government travel is permitted only in Zona Dorada, the historic town center, and direct routes to and from these locations and the airport or the cruise ship terminal.
Los Mochis and Port Topolobampo: U.S. government travel is permitted within the city and the port, as well as direct routes to and from these locations and the airport.”

The travel advisory also warns US citizens to stay away from the states of Colima, Guerrero, and Michoacan.

The travel advisory warns that those areas have high crime rates and that US government workers have restricted ability to travel in those states, as well as in Sinaloa and in Tamaulipas.

5. US Citizens Are Also Urged to “Reconsider” Travel to Coahuila and Chihuahua State, in Particular Ciudad Juarez

Police in Ciudad Juarez

The State Department is putting a “level three” warning out for both Coahuila and Chihuahua State. The current advisory was prompted by increased violence in Ciudad Juarez, which is located in Chihuahua State.

The State Department says about Ciudad Juarez, “Due to an increase in homicides during daylight hours in the downtown area, U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to downtown Ciudad Juarez (i.e., the area south of Calle Malecon, west of Calle 5 de Mayo, north of Calle 18 de Marzo, and east of Avenida Francisco Villa) unless approved in advance by the Consulate General’s leadership. U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel after dark west of Eje Vial Juan Gabriel and south of Boulevard Zaragoza. U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the areas southeast of Boulevard Independencia and the Valle de Juarez region. U.S. personnel must take the most direct route north of Boulevard Zaragoza to access the Ciudad Juarez Airport on Highway 45.”

You can read the full travel advisory here.