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Bloody Weekend in Mexico Spurs New Travel Warnings for Border Cities

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Violence in Mexico Spurs New Travel WarningsThe U.S. Department of State has upped its alert for travel to Mexico’s border towns in the wake of violent attacks on three people associated with the U.S. consulate in Ciudad Juarez, but no alert has been issued to resort areas after a series of gruesome murders in Acapulco.

The deadly attacks prompted the U.S. Embassy to urge American citizens to avoid unnecessary travel to parts of Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua, three north-central Mexican states struggling with drug-related violence.

Days earlier, the State Department had already authorized family members of U.S. consulate employees to leave six northern Mexican cities—Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey, and Matamoros—but did not issue the warning until Sunday.

Three Americans were killed in shootings over the weekend in Ciudad Juarez. American consulate worker Leslie Enriquez and her husband, Arthur H. Redelf, an officer in El Paso’s county jail, were returning from a birthday party when they were ambushed by drug traffickers who drove up to their car and opened fire. The couple’s 7-month-old infant in the back seat of the vehicle was unharmed. The family had been within eyesight of Santa Fe International bridge that links Ciudad Juarez with El Paso, Texas.

Previously on PeterGreenberg.com: Mexico’s Border Cities Focus of State Dept. Alert While Resort Towns Push Deals

Anti-gun sign - Safety in MexicoJust minutes earlier, the husband of another consulate employee, who had attended the same birthday party, was killed in a separate shooting. His two young children were non-fatally wounded in the attack.

Ciudad Juarez is considered to be one of the deadliest cities in the world, with more than 2,500 murders last year.

According to State Department spokeswoman Megan Mattson, the Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez is closed today for a national holiday, and will be closed on Tuesday to review security measures. Emergency services for U.S. citizens in Ciudad Juarez will be available on Tuesday.

Learn more: Mexico Tourism: Can Travel Deals Get Crowds to Return?

Meanwhile, the State Department has issued no new advisories over travel to Mexico’s more southerly resorts, despite the drug-related murders of 17 people in Acapulco over the weekend.

Pointing a Gun - Drug-Related Violence in MexicoTwo headless bodies were discovered on a busy road in Acapulco’s tourist section, while five other bodies were found further out in the city. Later, six police officers were killed while on duty, followed by the discovery of four more bodies in the city.

Acapulco, which is located in the state of Guerrero, was included in the State Department’s list of high-crime areas in Mexico in a travel warning issued June 30, 2009, which also includes Mexico City, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, and the states of Sinaloa and Durango. However, that travel warning was superseded by subsequent Mexico alerts that did not include Acapulco.

Each year, the State Department issues a general warning about travel to Mexico during spring break, which can be found here.

In total, nearly 50 people were killed in Mexico over the weekend due to drug-gang violence.

Drug-related violence has increased in Mexico since President Calderón issued a crackdown on drug traffickers by deploying as many as 50,000 troops across the country, which included $1 billion in backing from the U.S.. It’s believed that more than 18,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since the president began increasing pressure three years ago.

By Sarika Chawla for PeterGreenberg.com.

Related links: The Times (UK), US State Department, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, WWJ 950 Newsradio, USA Today

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