They have been listed in the level 4 category, "Do not travel"

By Aric Jenkins
January 11, 2018

The U.S. State Department has issued its highest travel warning for five states in Mexico following a revamp of its travel advisory system Wednesday.

The Mexican states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas have been ranked as “level 4,” with an explicit “do not travel” warning. “Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread,” the Mexico travel advisory reads, which puts the states in the same category as war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Somalia.

Popular Mexico travel destinations like Cancún, the Mayan Riviera, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, and Mexico City remain free of travel restrictions, Mexico’s tourism secretariat said in a statement, according to TIME. The tourism secretariat did not immediately return a request for comment from Travel + Leisure.

A map of Mexico shows the states affected by the highest State Department travel warning border the Pacific coast, with the exception of Tamaulipas, which touches the Gulf of Mexico.

The State Department says that in Tamaulipas, armed criminals target passenger busses, “often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments.” Meanwhile in Guerrero, 11 people were shot dead last week in a police shootout, the Associated Press reported.

The country in general may have suffered its deadliest year of murders in 2017, according to preliminary figures, the BBC reports. The previous record was set in 2011, when more than 27,000 were killed in homicides, according to official numbers.

To ensure safe travel throughout Mexico, the State Department suggests the following tips: Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving at night, exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos, do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry, and be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.