San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

March 2nd, 2011
DPS to students: ‘Avoid Mexico and stay alive’

The Texas Tribune

The Texas Department of Public Safety is recommending — again — that Texans avoid traveling to Mexico for vacation. It’s the second warning in less than five weeks.

“The message is simple,” DPS Director Steven C. McCraw said in a statement. “Avoid traveling to Mexico during Spring Break and stay alive.”

Spring breakers party on the beaches of Cozumel last year. The Texas Department of Transportation advises students to avoid the country due to ongoing violence. COURTESY PHOTO

In the statement released today, the DPS urged would-be spring breakers to forgo once-popular destinations in Mexico due to the violence there.

“While drug cartel violence is most severe in northern Mexico, it is prominent in other parts of the country as well,” McCraw said. “Various crime problems also exist in many popular resort areas, such as Acapulco and Cancun, and crimes against U.S citizens often go unpunished.”

In January, McCraw discouraged “winter Texans” from taking their annual treks south of the border following the murder of an American missionary in the border state of Tamaulipas.

McCraw isn’t limiting his cautionary advice just to Mexico this time around, though. He also asked boaters on international waters to make sure they know where the U.S. and Mexico boundaries are so they don’t cross into Mexican waters and risk another incident like last year’s on Falcon Lake. In September, U.S. citizen David Hartley was reportedly shot and killed by cartel operatives there while jet skiing with his wife, Tiffany Hartley. The lake spans across South Texas’ Starr and Zapata counties and was once a popular fishing spot. Hartley’s body has not been recovered. The DPS reported that cartel activity is still high on Falcon Lake.

Warnings and press reports on the violence appear to be working. Carol Boerger, a travel consultant with Austin-based Accent Travel, said bookings to Mexico are at their lowest levels since violence began to surge in 2006.

“We haven’t had that many students come in for Spring Break, not nearly what we’ve had in the past,” she said.

Boerger said she tells her clients that there are risks associated with traveling to any place they have never been, whether it’s New York City or Mexico. She said she reminds people that resort spots like Cancun, Cozumel and the Maya Riviera are as far away from the border as the American Midwest, but people are still hesitant. She does, however warn against traveling to the border states and the city of Monterrey, which has been inundated with violence recently following years of relative calm.

JULIAN AGUILAR reports for The Texas Tribune where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership between the Tribune and the San Marcos Mercury.

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