Killings of US citizens in Mexico hits eight-year high

But the US State Department report shows most of Mexico, including tourist areas, is safe, and the data reveal that US citizens are generally victims of opportunity, not specific targeting.

The vehicle where an American couple were killed in a drive-by shooting is seen in this file photo next to the bridge that connects Mexico and US in the border city of Ciudad Juarez on March 13, 2010. The US State Department announced today that killings of US citizens in Mexico hit an eight-year high in the first six months of 2011.

According to data from the US State Department, the first six months of 2011 represented the most deadly period of the past eight years for US citizens in Mexico.

From January 4 to June 11 of this year, 65 Americans were killed in Mexico, a 300 percent increase since 2003. This figure comes from La Opinion, which gained access to a report compiled by the US State Department. As the paper notes, the actual number of deaths may be higher in reality, as the figures only refer to voluntarily reported deaths.

Still, the numbers reveal some noteworthy patterns about the most dangerous places, statistically, for Americans in the country. The report found that Baja California, Tamaulipas, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Sinaloa have been the site of most of the violence, with a third of the deaths occurring in the border cities of Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana.

In its most recent travel advisory, issued on April 22, the State Department also warned US citizens to exercise extreme caution when traveling to the states of Michoacán, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí, Guerrero, and Jalisco. Nevertheless, the State Department warning points out that “there is no evidence that US tourists have been targeted by criminal elements due to their citizenship,” a reminder that attacks on Americans are usually opportunistic, and not systemic in nature.

--- Geoffrey Ramsey  is a writer for Insight – Organized Crime in the Americas, which provides research, analysis, and investigation of the criminal world throughout the region.Find all of his research here

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.