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“While most crime victims are Mexican citizens, the uncertain security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well,” it said.

Since January 2008, nearly 5,000 homicides have been committed in Ciudad Juarez alone, making it one of the most violent cities in the world. The bodies of some of those killed have been dumped in schoolyards and other public venues. Many of the victims were ambushed. Others were killed with grenades and AK-47 assault rifles.

Still others have been decapitated, their bodies hung from bridges - along with banners with warning messages from the cartels.

Mr. Calderon declared war against the Mexican cartels in 2006 and has committed more than 40,000 Mexican soldiers to the fight, although the violence continues to escalate. To date, the cartels in Mexico have killed more than 17,000 people.

At the core of the drug fight are the Sinaloa and Gulf drug cartels, along with Los Zetas, a group led by former Mexican military officers. They seek to control long-established smuggling corridors into this country, over which billions of dollars in illicit narcotics travel annually.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton traveled to Mexico City this month as part of a delegation to underscore concern over Mexico’s drug violence.

“These appalling assaults on members of our own State Department family are, sadly, part of a growing tragedy besetting many communities in Mexico,” Mrs. Clinton said.