The US government has updated a travel warning for Mexico after two Australian surfers and more than 100 Americans were murdered in the past year.
Adam Coleman and Dean Lucas, both 33 and from Perth, were driving along the Benito Juarez Highway in the early hours of November 21 in crime-ridden Sinaloa state, home to recently captured drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Sinaloa authorities said bandits dressed in fake police uniforms pulled the Australians over and when Mr Coleman resisted he was shot in the face, but survived.
The pair was then allegedly held at gunpoint, driven to a deserted farming area, murdered and their bodies and van torched.
The US State Department’s updated advisory includes details of restrictions placed on the travel of US government personnel in Mexico.
Last year 103 Americans were murdered in Mexico.
“US citizens have been the victims of violent crimes, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organised criminal groups in various Mexican states,” the State Department warns.
For the west coast state of Sinaloa, the US government advises non-essential travel should be deferred except for the cities of Mazatlan, Los Mochis and the Port of Topolobampo “where you should exercise caution”.
“One of Mexico’s most powerful criminal organisations is based in the state of Sinaloa, and violent crime rates remain high in many parts of the state,” the US advisory states.
The Australian government, in its latest Mexico travel update on January 15, advises “Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Mexico”.
“The level of this advice has not changed,” it states.
“Travellers should be aware of risk of violent crime and from instances of civil unrest when travelling by road in rural areas.”
Three men, who Sinaloa prosecutors said were “part of a criminal group”, were arrested two weeks after Mr Coleman and Mr Lucas were murdered.