Texas DPS to travelers: ‘We strongly urge anyone to avoid crossing into Mexico’

Tamaulipas on Texas-Mexico border is listed as ‘Do Not Travel To’

The Texas Department of Public Safety is urging people to not cross into Mexico due to violence. Image: Traffic waits on the international bridge to cross into the United States at the U.S.-Mexico border on November 7, 2018 in Hidalgo, Texas. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

The Texas Department of Public Safety is warning people against traveling to Mexico amid heightened awareness about abductions and cartel violence.

DPS spokesperson Lt. Christopher Olivarez told CNN’s Erin Burnett on “Erin Burnett Out Front” that state authorities are “very concerned” following the deaths of two Americans near Matamoros earlier this month. See part of the interview in the video player above.

The Americans were among a group of four that traveled to Mexico via Brownsville for plastic surgery. Soon after entering Matamoros, the group was caught in a drug cartel shootout, and video showed them being hauled off in a truck. Two survivors were later found in a shack near the Gulf Coast.

In another case, three Texas women disappeared after crossing into Mexico to go to a flea market in the city of Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon.

Maritza Trinidad Perez Rios, 47; Marina Perez Rios, 48; and Dora Alicia Cervantes Saenz, 53, have not been seen since late February.

In these undated photos provided by the Penitas Police Department, from left are sisters Maritza Rios, 47, and Marina Rios, 48, and their friend, Dora Saenz, 53. On Friday, March 10, 2023, authorities said the three women haven't been heard from since traveling from Texas into Mexico on Feb. 24 to sell clothes at a flea market. (Courtesy of Penitas Police Department via AP)

Olivarez said drug cartels present a dangerous situation for people crossing into border cities.

“Because of the increased violence and the fact that the Mexican drug cartels represent a significant threat to anyone who crosses into Mexico and just the sheer, you know, volatile nature of these, of these criminal organizations and the increased violence, that’s why we strongly urge anyone to avoid crossing into Mexico, especially at this time,” he said.

Mexico’s president, however, has disputed the claim that his country is dangerous, saying that it is safer than the U.S.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the U.S. travel warnings were the result of a conspiracy by conservative politicians and U.S. media outlets to smear his administration.

“There is no problem in traveling safely in Mexico,” he said.

Mexico’s nationwide homicide rate is about 28 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the Associated Press. By comparison, the U.S. homicide rate is around 7 per 100,000.

The U.S. Department of State is also asking American citizens to be cautious when visiting various states and cities in Mexico during spring break and Easter travel seasons.

Tamaulipas, the Mexican state where the group of four Americans traveled, is one of six states under the “Do Not Travel To” advisory due to crime and kidnapping.

For years the city of Matamoros has been the base for Gulf drug cartel members, who often fight among rival gangs or among themselves. Thousands of people have been reported missing in that state amid the violence.

Tamaulipas is the only Texas-Mexico border state listed under the “Do Not Travel To” distinction, though Chihuahua is listed under “Reconsider Travel.”

Federal authorities have these distinctions in place to limit travel for U.S. government employees and to give guidance to U.S. citizens.

See below for a list of Mexico travel advisories.

Do not travel to:

  • Colima state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Guerrero state due to crime.
  • Michoacan state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Sinaloa state due to crime and kidnapping
  • Tamaulipas state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Zacatecas state due to crime and kidnapping.

Reconsider travel to:

  • Baja California state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Chihuahua state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Durango state due to crime.
  • Guanajuato state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Jalisco state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Morelos state due to crime.
  • Sonora state due to crime and kidnapping.

Exercise increased caution when traveling to:

  • Aguascalientes state due to crime.
  • Baja California Sur state due to crime.
  • Chiapas state due to crime.
  • Coahuila state due to crime.
  • Hidalgo state due to crime.
  • Mexico City due to crime.
  • Mexico State due to crime.
  • Nayarit state due to crime.
  • Nuevo Leon state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Oaxaca state due to crime.
  • Puebla state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Queretaro state due to crime.
  • Quintana Roo state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • San Luis Potosi state due to crime and kidnapping.
  • Tabasco state due to crime.
  • Tlaxcala state due to crime.
  • Veracruz state due to crime.

Exercise normal precautions when traveling to:

  • Campeche state
  • Yucatan state

Click here for more guidelines on traveling to Mexico.

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About the Authors:

Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.