Tulum is one of Mexico's top tourist destinations, known for its ancient Mayan ruins, turquoise waters and electronic dance music parties
Tulum is one of Mexico's top tourist destinations, known for its ancient Mayan ruins, turquoise waters and electronic dance music parties AFP / Daniel SLIM

Americans are being warned about the dangers of traveling to Mexico as a wave of crime and kidnapping sweeps across areas of the country.

The U.S. Department of State issued the travel warning on Wednesday for multiple states in the North American country, citing a high risk for crime and kidnapping as well as cartel-related crimes where American travelers could find themselves in danger.

In its warning, the agency said violent crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery are widespread and common in Mexico, and the U.S. government said it has "limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico."

The department has also prohibited or restricted travel for government employees in certain areas of Mexico, just days after issuing a shelter-in-place order for workers in the Tijuana region as cartel-related crime erupted, prompting the lockdown for protection.

The destruction by the cartel was captured in a number of social media posts, showing vehicles and businesses going up in flames. The Mexican government was forced to send in its National Guard to curtail the violence.

Mexico also has been deemed a "high" risk nation for travel due to the number of rising COVID-19 cases in the country by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The states that the department is warning travelers to stay away from in Mexico are Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas. The agency also recommends reconsidering travel to the states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Morelos, and Sonora.

The State Department also advises exercising increased caution when traveling to Aguascalientes, Baja California Sur, Chiapas, Coahuila, Hidalgo, Mexico City, Mexico State, Nayarit, Nuevo, Oaxaca, Puebla, Queretaro, Quintana, San Luis Potosi, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz, with normal caution reminded in Campeche and Yucatan.

If travel must occur in any of these Mexican states, the State Department recommends keeping traveling companions and family back home aware of travel plans. When taking a taxi alone, the agency advises taking a photo of the taxi number and/or license plate and texting it to a friend as well as giving them your GPS location.

Visitors are also advised to use toll roads when possible and to avoid driving alone or at night due to limited police presence. Travelers visiting nightclubs, local bars, and casinos should use extra caution and never display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive jewelry or watches. Caution should also be used when using ATMs or visiting banks.

The State Department also advises travelers to use its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive travel alerts and to be easily located during an emergency. In addition, visitors should have a contingency plan in case of an emergency.