JUAREZ, Mexico (Border Report) – A neighborhood known for migrant smuggling and drug violence from two groups associated with the old Juarez cartel is now off limits to U.S. government employees.

The U.S. State Department this week urged Americans to reconsider travel to the state of Chihuahua and Juarez due to violent crime and gang activity. The travel advisory states that battles for territory between criminal groups have brought violence to areas frequented by American citizens and U.S. government employees, “including in restaurants and malls during daylight hours.”

Travel by government employees through the neighborhood of Anapra is strictly prohibited.

Anapra, on the other side of the border wall from Sunland Park, New Mexico, is known as a staging area for groups of migrants trying to evade capture by the U.S. Border Patrol. It is next to Mount Cristo Rey, which straddles the border and where first responders often render aid to injured migrants or pick up bodies.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopters often are seen hovering between the mountain and desert north of the border barrier.

South of the wall, murders have been reported in January, April, July and August. The one in April involved a daytime vehicle pursuit in which the driver of the fleeing car was shot 20 times, according to local media reports.

Last week, a man reportedly was shot at in the parking lot of a supermarket on Avenida Rancho de Anapra, which connects West Juarez to the access road to the San Jeronimo-Santa Teresa border crossing.

U.S. and Mexican police officials have told Border Report at least two major criminal groups  operate in the area – La Empresa and La Linea, a transnational criminal organization.

The State Department travel advisory says direct travel to Juarez International Airport and the U.S.-run factories in South Juarez is permitted, as is daylight travel on Federal Highway 45 (the PanAmerican Highway) from Juarez to Chihuahua City.

Travel on official business to the towns of Palomas (south of Columbus, N.M.) and Ojinaga (south of Presidio, Texas) is only allowed through the U.S. side of the border.

The State Department advises American citizens not to travel to the states of Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Michoacan, Guerrero, Zacatecas and Colima due to risks of crime and kidnapping.

If you must travel through high-risk areas in Mexico, the State Department recommends keeping your family or trusted associates informed of your travel plans or even send your GPS location. You should use regularly patrolled toll roads whenever possible, be cautious when patronizing restaurants or bars, and be vigilant when using bank ATMs

For a detailed description of risky areas in Mexico and precautions U.S. citizens should take, visit this State Department web page.