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More than 15 million Americans travel to Mexico each year and nearly half a million reside there, according to the U.S. State Department, and most do so without becoming crime victims. But the department's consular information sheet on Mexico has enough warnings that any prudent Mexico-bound traveler should read it carefully.

Earlier this year, attention was focused on taxicab robberies in Mexico City, during which passengers were robbed by the driver or accomplices. They remain one of the biggest problems for visitors to avoid, according to a spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy.

The State Department's advisory says that frequent crimes "involve taxi robberies, armed robbery, pickpocketing and purse snatching. In several cases, tourists report that uniformed police are the crime perpetrators, stopping vehicles and seeking money or assaulting and robbing tourists walking late at night."

The embassy noted that border towns such as Tijuana have their own set of hazards for visiting Americans, including assaults and robberies. Another type of border problem, visitors being arrested for possession of firearms or ammunition, prompted a special warning this summer that remains in effect.

"Entering Mexico with a firearm or a single round of ammunition carries a penalty of up to five years in jail, even if the firearm or ammunition is taken into Mexico unintentionally. ... This has resulted in arrests, convictions, and long prison sentences for U.S. citizens."

The full consular information sheet on Mexico can be obtained by calling (202) 647-5225 or visiting Web site

Also available is the brochure "Tips for Travelers to Mexico," from the same number or by going to