U.S. State Department Warns Of Increased Piracy In Gulf Of Mexico, Increased Cartel-Related Crime

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U.S. State Department Warns Of Increased Piracy In Gulf Of Mexico, Increased Cartel-Related Crime

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On June 17th, the US Department of State updated its travel advisory for Mexico.

The overall risk level for Mexico remained the same in the bulletin, but the warning comes after a number of reported incidents in recent months including an attack in November on an Italian flagged vessel off the state of Campeche.

It essentially entirely suggested not traveling to Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas due to cartel-related crime.

Only several states have a level 4 warning affiliated to them, below, as well as the reasons:

  1. Colima state – Violent crime and gang activity are widespread. Specifically, US government employees are forbidden from traveling to Tecoman, within 20 km of the Colima/Michoacan border and on the highway towards the Jalisco border;
  2. Guerrero state – Crime and violence are widespread. Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers. US government employees are forbidden from traveling to several cities;
  3. Michoacán state – Crime and violence are widespread. And US government employees have limited travel allowed to several areas;
  4. Sinaloa state – Violent crime is widespread. Criminal organizations are based and operating in Sinaloa state. US government employees may be allowed limited travel to some areas. But it is very obvious why travel to the Sinaloa is forbidden.
  5. Tamaulipas state – Organized crime activity – including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault – is common along the northern border and in Ciudad Victoria. Criminal groups target public and private passenger buses as well as private automobiles traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas of the state in marked and unmarked vehicles and operate with impunity particularly along the border region from Reynosa northwest to Nuevo Laredo. In these areas, local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to crime incidents. There are greater law enforcement capabilities in the tri-city area of Tampico, Ciudad Madero, and Altamira, which has a lower rate of violent criminal activity compared to the rest of the state.

These are, in fact, the states where the cartels are operating with the most freedom, frequently carrying out killings of civilians, competitors and even authorities.

Tamaulipas is an exception, because there is also a risk of kidnapping there, in addition to just “crime.”

There is a specific warning of piracy in the Gulf of Mexico, and the Department of State warned about the threat posed by pirates to boats and oil installations in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

This is yet another sign that Mexican authorities are losing grip on the fight against the cartels.

“Armed criminal groups have been known to target and rob commercial vessels, oil platforms, and offshore supply vessels in the Bay of Campeche area in the southern Gulf of Mexico,” the U.S. State Department said.

Piracy has been a significant issue in the Bay of Campeche for years. Criminals pose as fishermen and attempt to board offshore platforms and vessels in the Gulf, according to reports in Mexican media.

According to a report from January 2019, there was a 310-percent increase in pirate activity in the southern Gulf of Mexico over the three years to end-2018, from 48 attacks in 2016 to as many as 197 in 2018.

Witnesses said the pirates travelled in fast boats, boarded platforms, and threatened crews with guns before stealing whatever happened to be of value, from drilling equipment to screws

Sometimes they even went as far as stealing crude oil from the platforms directly.


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