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In a recent security alert, the US Department of State is encouraging tourists to exercise increased precautions when visiting Mexico. The alert is due to recent reports of “unforeseen problems,” including medical emergencies, drownings, unregulated alcohol and sexual assault.

According to the Journal Sentinel’s investigation, unregulated alcohol has led to more than 200 reports of severe illness and blackouts preceded by often minimal intake of alcohol. Many of the reports involved theft and assault, and some victims were taken to jails and hospitals. Only a few victims reported any memory of the incidents. Several of the reports took place at upscale resorts.

One pair of victims said that, when they sought out help, they were faced with indifference toward their cases. The investigation also uncovered the removal of negative TripAdvisor reviews from victims of related crimes. According to USA Today, Mexican authorities have since tightened the reigns, uncovering and seizing tens of thousands of gallons of blackmarket alcohol, some spiked with “high levels” of methanol.

Currently the US Department of State has issued a level 2 travel advisory (“Exercise Increased Caution”) for Mexico due to crime. Within Mexico, the US Department of State warns tourists not to travel to five specific regions: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas. Travelers can read more about staying safe in the country by means of the State Department’s in-depth advisories, which cover the common dangers of specific regions and how to best avoid them.

The specific precautions that the Department of State outlined in its recent travel alert are as follows:

  • Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas or purchase travel insurance that specifically covers you in Mexico. Seek coverage that includes medical evacuation. Confirm costs of medical treatment in advance, when possible.
  • Avoid strong currents and do not swim after drinking or when warning flags note unsafe conditions.
  • Drink responsibly and watch your drink at all times. If you begin to feel ill, seek medical attention immediately.  Report cases of unregulated alcohol to the Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS) at contactociudadano@cofepris.gob.mx.
  • Know your drinking companions and stay in a group of friends who have your safety in mind when you are in clubs and bars, out walking in dimly-lit areas, or in a taxi at night. Obey Mexican law and remember Mexican laws may differ from U.S. laws.
  • Be aware of your safety and protect your personal possessions when using public transportation. Use radio taxis or those from “sitio” taxi stands.
  • Keep your friends and family back home informed of your travel plans, especially if traveling alone.
  • Contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you need assistance.

You can contact the US Embassy in Mexico City for assistance at 01-55-8526-2561 if you’re in Mexico or at 1-844-528-6611 from the United States.

H/T: USA Today

Featured image by Ben Girardi/Getty Images.

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