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The U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory warning Americans to exercise “extreme caution” in northern Mexico in the wake of increased drug-related violence. Travel across the border with Mexico by diplomats and their families had been suspended.

The travel advisory warned U.S. citizens against potential firefights, carjackings, kidnappings, and other crimes. The State Department that their employees and their families are banned from traveling across the U.S.-Mexico border to come to or leave their present posts in Mexico.

Road safety is growing concern along the border, the State Department said, following many cases of robbery, harassment, and gunfire between Mexican police and drug syndicates. Drug gangs have went as far as setting roadblocks to control some areas.

The incidence of violence has spiked recently in Mexico. In Torreon on Sunday, eighteen people were massacred, just a month after nineteen people were killed in a rehab facility in Chichuahua. In Juarez near the border with the U.S., a total of 1,500 people have been killed during this year alone.

Direct involvement by Americans includes the killing of four U.S. citizens from late 2009 to early 2010 in Gomez Palacio, in central Mexico. Most of the American deaths in 2009 happened in Tijuana and Juarez, both border cities.

The State Department advised Americans to “defer unnecessary travel” to Juarez and the state of Michoacan. The department acknowledge that millions of Americans visit Mexico every year under safe conditions but said that the drug violence has worsened and present serious risk for U.S. citizens traveling across the border.

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