Ambassador to Mexico Warns of Heightened Travel Alert in Response to Violence

The U.S. ambassador to Mexico warned that the United States may issue a heightened travel alert next week.

In recent years, Mexico has suffered a wave of organized crime and drug-related violence that killed more than 2,500 people last year alone.

"While there is little doubt in my mind that the travel alert should be reissued, it may also be necessary to heighten the alert to better reflect the increasing insecurity in the state of Chihuahua," U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza said in a statement Friday.

An alert issued last year by the State Department warns Americans about travel in areas of the country where foreigners have been targeted. The alert is due to expire on April 15.

Garza was speaking in Ciudad Juarez, which the Mexican government has flooded with soldiers and federal police to curb soaring violence. About 200 people have been killed in the Chihuahua state city of 1.3 million since Jan. 1.

Also Friday, the Mexican Defense Department announced that a military court is investigating five soldiers for their alleged role in the killings of four civilians and two soldiers.

A military judge issued an arrest warrant and considers them suspects in a March 26 confrontation in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, the department said in a statement. It didn't give further details on the deaths but said the investigation remained open.

In a second statement, the department said two soldiers deserted Thursday and were later killed during a gunbattle with police in the state of Nuevo Leon. Three state police officers and a civilian also died in the violence.