Americans warned of violence in Guadalajara

MEXICO CITY — Officials are warning U.S. citizens not to drive at night in parts of the western Mexican city of Guadalajara after suspected drug-gang members burned vehicles and blocked streets. A separate U.S. alert Friday said the northern city of Monterrey has seen a significant increase in armed robberies at restaurants and convenience stores.

Some of the blockades in Guadalajara took place on a highway leading to the city's airport and to Lake Chapala, a popular retirement and vacation spot for U.S. and Canadian citizens.

Hotel managers on Lake Chapala said Friday that the warning has not significantly affected business.

The U.S. consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city, posted a message on its website Thursday saying that it had prohibited U.S. diplomatic personnel from traveling the highway to the airport at night, and that it "recommends that U.S. citizens consider similar precautions."

On Tuesday, assailants hurled grenades, burned vehicles and blocked several Guadalajara streets and highways in seven near-simultaneous attacks that injured a policeman and two transportation workers. Such tactics have been used by cartels in the past to aid their escapes from police.

The attacks were staged by drug gangs, possibly in retaliation for the arrests of their members, said Fernando Guzman Perez, interior secretary of Jalisco state, where Guadalajara is located.

Such alerts have been issued in the past for highways in northern and western Mexico, but are uncommon for Guadalajara, which is not considered one of the focal points of a drug war that has claimed more than 34,600 lives since 2006.

Chapala, a shimmering, mountain-ringed lake, has been popular among U.S. and Canadian citizens for decades.

Ricardo Soto, manager of the lakeside Quinta San Carlos hotel, said the drug gangs' actions this week had affected business "a little."

The consulate's message advised motorists encountering roadblocks to get off the highway immediately and take shelter in a shopping mall, hotel or any other business they could find nearby.