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U.S. citizens told to avoid southeast Colima

January 17, 2013

The U.S. Consulate in Guadalajara issued an advisory last week warning against visiting certain parts of Colima, following a sharp increase in violence over the last year.

U.S. citizens should “defer non-essential travel to areas of the state of Colima that border the state of Michoacan, including the city of Tecoman. You should also exercise caution when traveling to other parts of the state, including the towns of Colima city and Manzanillo,” the Consulate said.

“The security situation along the Michoacan border continues to be the most unstable with shootouts occurring between rival criminal groups and with Mexican authorities.  Homicides throughout the state have risen sharply in 2012,” the advisory explained.

The murder rate in Colima shot up from 93 killings in 2011 to 256 in 2012, an increase of 175 percent. This trend has continued into 2013, with 17 murders reported so far this year: ten in Tecoman, five in the nearby town of Armeria and one each in Manzanillo and the city of Colima.

Jesus Granados Rangel, the head of Colima’s Department of Tourism, sought to downplay the state’s security problems.

“We were surprised by the alert, because we see many Americans in Manzanillo and nobody has touched them. They are really happy enjoying our climate and our beaches,” Granados said. “Colima remains a very safe state, but we’ll have to wait a few months to see if the recommendation made by the United States affects the influx of tourists.”

The recent violence has occurred away from tourist areas, mostly in the municipalities of Tecoman and Armeria, located 50 kilometers southwest of the state capital and just inland from the Pacific coast.

Violent incidents have been reported on an almost daily basis in Tecoman this year, with the most notable being a firefight in which police shot dead four gang members in the San Isidro neighborhood on January 5.

The following day, gunmen in Armeria killed the wife and two teenage sons of Rafael Mendoza Vicente, a suspected member of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) who was arrested on December 7.

Much of the violence along Michoacan’s western borders with Jalisco and Colima over the past month has been attributed to a turf war between the CJNG and rival gang the Familia Michoacana or its offshoot the Knights Templar.

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