Violence in Mexico prompts travel alert

Escalating violence in Mexico led the university to issue a travel alert advising spring breakers of the potential dangers in traveling to the country, a university official said.

Lt. Ramiro Abad, head of the campus police patrol division, said the university received the travel alert from the U.S. State Department and passed the information on to students because many travel to Mexico for spring break.

“There’s always been problems in certain border towns,” Abad said. “Drug activity often overlays into people who aren’t involved, and they get caught into it.”

According to the State Department’s travel alert, Mexico is caught in a violent conflict between warring drug cartels and Mexican security forces. Innocent bystanders have been killed or injured in drug-related attacks and dozens of Americans have been kidnapped, according to the alert.

Amanda Benson, a sophomore English major, called off her trip to Cancun, Mexico, as a result of the dangers.

“My parents don’t think it’s going to be safe,” Benson said. “I got the alert and sent it to my dad, and he said, ‘If your school is even telling you not to go, you’re not going.'”

The rest of her group plan to follow through with the trip, Benson said.

According to the State Department’s travel alert, the most dangerous areas in Mexico are near the U.S. border, where the drug cartels are fighting for control of narcotics smuggling routes.

Ashley Reed, sophomore finance and accounting major, said that even though she is a little worried, she plans on following through with her spring break plans to vacation in Cancun.

“We are just going to stay at the resort more and not go out at night,” Reed said. “So I think we’ll be all right.”

Reed said her mother has been concerned about her going to Mexico.

“My mom hasn’t said she doesn’t want me to go,” Reed said. “She just wants me to send her a text every night before I go to bed and tell her I’m OK.”

Abad said students who are traveling to Mexico should take precautions to ensure safe and enjoyable vacations.

“The best thing to do is know where you are going,” Abad said. “Don’t go off in remote areas. … See what’s going on and be aware.”