Cancun has long been a traditional Spring Break getaway for Minnesota. In recent years, it has also become something else: a center of drug violence.

While these two facets of the city rarely meet, it's important that travelers to the resort area and elsewhere in Mexico understand the potential dangers, the State Department warns. On Wednesday, it issued a new countrywide Security Alert.

In February, five people were gunned down at a bar 8 miles from the tourist zone in Cancun. In 2017, five visitors at a music festival in Playa del Carmen were shot dead. Other visitors have been robbed or wound up in jail or the hospital after passing out from drinking.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City issued a Security Alert warning Spring Breakers to use extra caution. It notes that most of the thousands of U.S. citizens visiting Mexico for Spring Break each year stay safe, but adds, "Spring Break travel can sometimes include unforeseen problems." Among them, it notes, are sexual assault, unregulated alcohol and arrests.

The alert suggests that travelers take extra precautions such as watching your drink at all times, knowing your drinking companions and staying in groups of friends when at a club or bar.

The Security Alert is in addition to a Nov. 15 State Department Travel Advisory noting that violent crime, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery, is widespread in Mexico.

Quintana Roo, home to Cancun and Playa del Carmen, is under an Advisory Level 2, which calls for exercising increased caution. Mazatlan, in Sinaloa State, is under a Level 4, suggesting "do not travel." State Department employees are restricted in their travels in the state and in Mazatlan, must stay in the tourist areas.

The advisory suggests U.S. citizens avoid displaying wealth, use only cabs from regulated stands and avoid driving alone or at night.

It also recommends travelers register with its Smart Traveler program so they can be reached in an emergency.

To read the Travel Advisory and the Security Alert and to register with the Smart Traveler program, go to