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U.S. State Department only up-graded Travel alert to Mexico

by Michael Webster: Investigative Reporter Wednesday, Apr. 16, 2008 at 7:44 AM
mvwsr@aol.com 949 494-7121

Dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped, held hostage and killed by their captors in Mexico and many cases remain unsolved. Moreover, new cases of disappearances and kidnap-for-ransom continue to be reported. From Brownsville Texas to San Diego California the State Department has alerted Americans of the dangers of crossing the border.



As of April 14, 2008 The U.S. Department of State issues new travel alert for Mexico. According to the U.S. Government violence Along the U.S.-Mexico Border is on the rise.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs says “Violent criminal activity fueled by a war between criminal organizations struggling for control of the lucrative narcotics trade continues along the U.S.-Mexico border. Attacks are aimed primarily at members of drug trafficking organizations, Mexican police forces, criminal justice officials, and journalists. However, foreign visitors and residents, including Americans, have been among the victims of homicides and kidnappings in the border region. In its effort to combat violence, the government of Mexico has deployed military troops in various parts of the country. U.S. citizens are urged to cooperate with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways”.

The alert warns Americans that armed robberies and carjackings may not be connected to the Mexican cartels, and is apparently unconnected to the narcotics-related violence. This new type of Mexican Violence has increased in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. Dozens of U.S. citizens have been kidnapped, held hostage and killed by their captors in Mexico and many cases remain unsolved. Moreover, new cases of disappearances and kidnap-for-ransom continue to be reported.

From Brownsville Texas to San Diego California the State Department has alerted Americans of the dangers of crossing the border.



This reporter has reported in the Laguna Journal among other on-line and print publications revealed that kidnapping of American citizens along the border with Mexico are being held in holding areas and it's carried out in a 4 prong manner, locator's, abductors, transporters, and holders. It's very hard to kill a 4 headed snake. The number of kidnappings has risen each year for the last 3 years.

In other cases Mexican cartels through there enforcers of Mexican and American gangs order smaller American gangs to kidnap and in some cases murder Americans.

"U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk posed by the deteriorating security situation, along the border" said a statement issued in Mexico City and Washington. "Violent criminal activity, including murder and kidnapping, in Mexico's northern border region has increased."

New cases of disappearances and kidnap-for-ransom continue to be reported. No one can be considered immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors. Criminals have been known to follow and harass U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles including motors homes and travel trailers, particularly in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Reynosa, Juarez, Mexicali, Tijuana and most all border towns.

Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007. Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas. Google Why not a Warning for Mexico travel or at least an up-grade to the existing alert?

The alert goes on to say “Recent Mexican army and police force conflicts with heavily-armed narcotics cartels have escalated to levels equivalent to military small-unit combat and have included use of machine guns and fragmentation grenades. Confrontations have taken place in numerous towns and cities in northern Mexico, including Tijuana in the Mexican state of Baja California, and Chihuahua City and Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua. The situation in northern Mexico remains very fluid; the location and timing of future armed engagements there cannot be predicted”. Public shootouts have occurred during daylight hours near shopping areas in many Mexican border towns.

I reported last month and asked the questions why the U.S. Government has not issued a new travel warning or even an up-grade on its existing alert. Now the U.S has up-graded, the questions are why not raise the alert to a warning status and protect Americans and warn them to not travel in Mexico. At least until some or all the violence stops and it is safe again to travel in Mexico. Many travelers believe if this same thing was happening in any other country there would be a warning issued. Why not Mexico?

U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza, who was in Juárez April 4 to assess the situation, said U.S. tourists are not being asked to avoid traveling in Mexico. However, they are advised to use caution and to cooperate with official checkpoints on Mexican roads.

State Department officials said there was no evidence that U.S. citizens were being targeted.

Though State Department officials updated the travel alert for Mexico, they did not upgrade it to a more serious "travel warning," which is reserved for long-term conditions, Garza said.

Even though many Mexican cities on the U.S. Border and elsewhere in Mexico is under siege. The question is why not. Mexico is now one of the most dangerous countries in the world. And it is our neighbor to the south with a population nearing 100 million people.

Our government admits Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles. How are American travelers expected to be able to distinguish between the real Mexican army at the road blocks and the criminals?

U.S. citizens are urged to be especially alert to safety and security concerns when visiting the border region. While Mexican citizens overwhelmingly are the victims of these crimes, this uncertain security situation poses risks for U.S. citizens as well. Thousands of U.S. citizens cross the border safely each day, exercising common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas of border towns during daylight hours. It is strongly recommended that travelers avoid areas where prostitution and drug dealing occur.



Criminals have followed and harassed U.S. citizens traveling in their vehicles, particularly in border areas including Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Juarez and Tijuana.

The State Department Claims “there is no evidence that U.S. citizens are targeted because of their nationality. A border patrol agent who prefers to not be named and who is familiar with the U.S. Mexican border says Americans are targeted by Mexican bandits and other Mexican criminals because they are American and are believed to have money with them”.



The State department says if you do become a victim of crime while your in Mexico and remember this is after the fact are urged to contact the consular section of the nearest U.S. consulate or Embassy for advice and assistance.



23 year old American from El Paso Kyle Mostello Belanger- Believed Missing in Juarez Mexico

Born in Tenn. 23 year old American from El Paso Kyle Mostello Belanger- believed missing in Juarez Mexico. Close friends and relatives believe he was a soldier for the El Paso Barrio Azteca gang. The real question here, was Kyle kidnapped taken to Juarez and murdered as some believe? Google Americans Being Kidnapped, Held and killed in Mexico



The State Department does warn U.S. citizens residing and traveling in Mexico should exercise caution when in unfamiliar areas and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Violence by criminal elements affects many parts of the country, urban and rural, including border areas. Though there is no evidence that U.S. citizens are specifically targeted, Mexican and foreign bystanders have been injured or killed in some violent attacks, demonstrating the heightened risk in public places. No one can be considered immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors. U.S. citizens who believe they are being followed should notify Mexican officials as soon as possible. U.S. citizens should make every attempt to travel on main roads during daylight hours, particularly the toll (“cuota”) roads, which are generally more secure. It is preferable for U.S. citizens to stay in well-known tourist destinations and tourist areas of the cities with more adequate security, and provide an itinerary to a friend or family member not traveling with them. U.S. citizens should avoid traveling alone as a means to better ensure their safety. Refrain from displaying expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items.

Demonstrations occur frequently throughout Mexico and usually are peaceful. However, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence unexpectedly. Some deaths occurred during violent demonstrations, including an American citizen who died in the 2006 violence in Oaxaca. During demonstrations or law enforcement operations, U.S. citizens are advised to remain in their homes or hotels, avoid large crowds, and avoid the downtown and surrounding areas. Since the timing and routes of scheduled marches and demonstrations are always subject to change, U.S. citizens should monitor local media sources for new developments and exercise extreme caution while within the vicinity of protests. The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation. Therefore, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid participating in demonstrations or other activities that might be deemed political by Mexican authorities.

For more detailed information on staying safe in Mexico, please see the Mexico Country Specific Information at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's internet web site at http://travel.state.gov where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers from Mexico, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). American citizens traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to register with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate on the State Department's travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov/.

For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. You may also contact the Embassy by e-mail at: ccs@usembassy.net.mx. The Embassy's internet address is http://www.usembassy-mexico.gov/.

Consulates:

Ciudad Juarez: Avenida Lopez Mateos 924-n, telephone (52)(656) 611-3000.

Guadalajara: Progreso 175, telephone (52)(333) 268-2100.

Hermosillo: Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (52)(662) 289-3500.

Matamoros: Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (52)(868) 812-4402.

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