FRIDAY FRUMP: Thinking Mexico for spring break? Think again.

Vacation-goers pondering a spring break in Mexico are being urged by a leading travel insurance provider to rethink their options.

“College students considering trips to Mexico for spring break may want to review the most recent U.S. State Department advisory for the country,” travel insurer InsureMyTrip wrote in an email sent Feb. 21.

State warns that travelers should “exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime. Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread.” Read the entire advisory here.

Five Mexican states are listed Level 4, “Do not travel” areas that tourists should avoid. They are Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas.

Although the warning, issued in November 2018, lists the popular spring break spot of Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo as a Level 2, “Exercise increased caution” area, there is growing safety concern over visiting the spring break hot spot following several incidents of gun violence over the last few months.

Late in the evening of Feb. 15, five people were killed and five more wounded after gunmen burst into a bar named La Kuka, about four miles from Cancun’s seaside tourist hotel zone, and opened fire. Violence has been rising across the state of Quintana Roo amid reports of the Jalisco New Generation cartel moving into the area and fighting local gangs for control, according to the Associated Press.

The cartel has been described as one of the most powerful in Mexico by U.S. authorities and is known for brutal acts of violence.

The shootings at La Kuka follows a similar attack in January, when gunmen shot and killed seven people at a house in Cancun. Authorities attribute that attack to a dispute between street-level drug dealers.

Also in January, a gunman opened fire at a nightclub in Playa Del Carmen, killing five people and injuring 15 on the last day of an electronic music festival. Playa Del Carmen is also in the state of Quintana Roo.

While not linking all deaths to drug dealers and cartels, Mexican authorities reported that 774 people were killed in the state in 2018, more than double the 359 killings recorded in 2017.

InsureMyTrip reports that online searches during the second week in February jumped for "travel insurance for Mexico" to its highest search volume since June 2018.

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Photo provided by Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau
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