AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - The state of Texas warned
U.S. citizens Saturday to stay away from the border town of
Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, over the July 4 weekend, saying the
violent Zetas drug cartel was targeting vacationers there.
"According to the information we have received, the Zetas
are planning a possible surge in criminal activity, such as
robberies, extortions, carjackings and vehicle theft,
specifically against U.S. citizens," Steven McCraw, director of
Texas' Department of Public Safety, said in a press release.
McCraw said U.S. citizens should avoid Nuevo Laredo during
the Fourth of July holiday. The city is across the Rio Grande
river from Laredo, Texas.
Texas has previously warned Americans about travel to
Mexico during holidays and other peak vacations times.
The latest bulletin comes just weeks after a complaint from
Mexico's tourism chief Rodolfo Lopez Negrete, who said some of
the warnings are "ludicrous" and "misinformed."
High-profile violence has stained the image of Mexico's
large tourist centers, although the majority of violence tends
to happen away from tourist destinations.
More than 37,000 people have been killed in Mexico since
late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon sent the armed forces
to crush powerful drug cartels battling for lucrative smuggling
routes into the United States.
The U.S. State Department says 111 Americans were reported
murdered in Mexico last year, up from 35 in 2007.
(Writing by Kyle Peterson; Additional reporting by Corrie
MacLaggan; Editing by Greg McCune and Todd Eastham)
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