San Diego and southern California troops are being warned to stay out of Mexico.
A new U.S. Marine Corps policy is in effect restricting travel south of the border without prior approval. Officials with the U.S. Marine Corps said with the escalating violence in Mexico it's just too dangerous for Marines.
Mike Alvarez, the public affairs officer for the First Marine Expeditionary Force, said officers monitor the ongoing war between drug cartels in Mexico and because of the prolonged violence they're limiting travel for troops.
"This policy has been put in place as a precautionary measure to ensure that our service members receive the anti-terrorism force protection briefs that they need and so they understand the situation down in Mexico," Alvarez said.
Whether it's business or pleasure all service members must first get approval to travel to Mexico. If they're cleared, they must take a safety class and take a buddy with them when they go. If the policy is broken Marines may be punished by losing rank or pay.
The warning is resonating with civilians who are now thinking twice about traveling to Mexico. Janiece Thorn is visiting San Diego from New York. She said she wouldn’t be going to Mexico any time soon.
“If I were aware that these were the instructions the military was giving its own personnel I would assume that that would apply to the ordinary non-military person as well," Thorn said.
Mission Valley resident Jimmy Gonzalez said he's heard enough.
"The cartels that are just killing people. It's just like a war down there… I have no drive to go down to Mexico because its just crazy down there. So I don't want anyone else to go down there. It's just out of hand down there," Gonzalez said.
Alvarez, the 1 MEF spokesman, said service members cleared to travel to Mexico will be trained in safety precautions. They’ll also be required to carry certain phone numbers with them so they know who to contact in an emergency.