With thousands of American teenagers and college students revving up for spring break, the government and some universities have a message for those looking to venture south of the border: Be careful.
As drug-related violence in Mexico surges, most recently with the brutal murder of a U.S. consulate employee and her husband this weekend, government officials are trying to dissuade travel to some of the country's most dangerous areas.
"Recent violent attacks have prompted the U.S. Embassy to urge U.S. citizens to delay unnecessary travel to parts of Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua states and advise U.S. citizens residing or traveling in those areas to exercise extreme caution," the State Department's Travel Warning said.
Before this weekend's attack, the Texas Department of Public Safety director Steven McCraw said in a statement that parents "should not allow their children to visit these Mexican cities because their safety cannot be guaranteed."
"I would've gone, but I don't think my mom would've been too fond of me going," one American student told "Good Morning America."
Another said she was going to brave the trip with friends, but the group is also bringing bodyguards.
The warnings omit some of Mexico's more traditional travel destinations, like Cancun and Cozumel, where the advisory warns against common crimes.
Other popular destinations, like Tijuana, however, are considered far more dangerous, according to the report.
"Some recent confrontations between Mexican authorities and drug cartel members have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades," the State Department's Travel Warning stated.
The State Department estimates that more than 100,000 American teenagers and young adults venture to Mexico each year.
"While the vast majority enjoys their vacation without incident, several may die, hundreds will be arrested, and still more will make mistakes that could affect them for the rest of their lives," another report from the State Department said.
Two Americans, One a U.S. Government Employee Murdered
Consular employee Lesley A. Enriquez, 35, and her husband, Arthur H. Redelfs, 34, were gunned down in their car in Juarez, Mexico, over the weekend, authorities said Sunday.
The couple's baby was found unharmed in the back seat, according to The Associated Press.
According to the AP, Mexican authorities suspect members of the Juarez cartel were sent as part of a hit squad.
A Mexican state police offer, Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, was also killed in the attack.
Juarez, which is just across the border from El Paso, Texas, is considered one of the most dangerous cities on the planet.
Mexican authorities reported that in 2009 more than 2,600 people were killed in the city, which has a population of approximately 1.3 million, the State Department said. In comparison, New York City is home to more than 8 million people and reported fewer than 500 murders the same year, according to city records.
White House National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said Sunday that President Obama "shares in the outrage of the Mexican people at the murders of thousands in Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere in Mexico."