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6:11 AM Tue, Dec. 18th

DPS: Be cautious if traveling to Mexico

PHOENIX - The Arizona Department of Public Safety is warning college students and spring break visitors to Mexico to be careful.

According to a travel alert issued in September by the U.S. State Department, "Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major drug trafficking routes. Nevertheless, crime and violence are serious problems. While most victims of violence are Mexican citizens associated with criminal activity, the security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.

U.S. citizens should understand the risks involved in travel to Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and who to contact if one becomes a victim of crime or violence, State Department officials said. "Common-sense precautions such as visiting only legitimate business and tourist areas during daylight hours, and avoiding areas where criminal activity might occur, can help ensure that travel to Mexico is safe and enjoyable."

Below are some security tips for students and others who choose to visit Mexico for spring break:

• Travel on main roads during daylight hours. As much as possible, use toll (cuota) roads, which are generally more secure.

• Leave an itinerary with a friend or family member not traveling with you.

• Do not travel alone.

• Visit legitimate businesses and well-known tourist areas during daylight hours.

• Do not engage in illicit activity, and avoid areas where criminal activity could be reasonably expected.

• Avoid hailing taxis on the street, and only use taxis associated with organized taxi stands (sitios).

• Check with your cellular provider to confirm your mobile phone is capable of roaming on GSM or 3G international networks.

• Monitor your alcohol intake.

• Do not accept a drink from a stranger, regardless of whether you are male or female.

• Do not display expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items.

• Travel as a group as much as possible.