Mexico Travel Warning: State Department Says Avoid 5 States

The U.S. State Department issued a travel warning Wednesday advising Americans to avoid five states in Mexico, putting the regions at the same level of danger as war-torn Syria, Yemen, and Somalia.

The level 4 “do not travel” risk is the highest warning and applies to the Pacific coast states of Sinaloa, Colima, Michoacán, Guerrero, and Tamaulipas on the eastern Gulf.

“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread,” the advisory reads.

TIME Graphic by Lon Tweeten

Guerrero has suffered from a long history of violence. In 2014, 43 students were abducted and killed in Guerrero state. Last week, a police shootout left 11 people dead. In the travel advisory, the State Department warns that, “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.”

Criminal organizations also operate heavily in the state of Sinaloa. In 2016, the infamous cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán was arrested and extradited, but violence remains in the power vacuum of his drug empire.

Last year, Mexico’s homicide rate was the deadliest on record, according to the Guardian, with 23,101 murder investigations opened.

Mexico overall was given a level 2 warning, which means travelers should “exercise increased caution.” Eleven additional Mexican states received a level 3 warning, meaning “reconsider travel.”

The country’s main tourism destinations — Cancún, the Mayan Riviera, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, and Mexico City — have no travel restrictions, Mexico’s tourism secretariat said in a statement.

“The vast majority of crimes in Mexico do not occur in areas frequented by international tourists,” the tourism board said in a statement to TIME. “The vast majority of Mexico is safe for tourists.”