Mexico, a neighbor to the United States, offers a rich tapestry of geographic and cultural diversity. From the Pacific shores to the southern border with Guatemala, this nation of over 132 million people captivates with its contrasts. Yet, it’s often under a cloud of misrepresentation especially in Canada.
People worldwide, who have witnessed Mexico’s charm firsthand, would attest to its allure, far beyond the negative stereotypes.
The country’s breathtaking vacation havens like Cancun and Playa Grande, and historical marvels such as the Tulon Ruins and the Aztec’s Templo Mayor, stand as testaments to its numerous attractions.
However, Mexico confronts various issues, notably the influence of drug cartels and organized crime. This darker aspect casts a long shadow, with 2021 witnessing over 43,900 homicides and 625 kidnappings.
A Gallup poll revealed that only 48% of Mexicans feel safe in their neighborhoods at night. American tourist advisories intermittently highlight the risks in certain Mexican regions.
A harrowing event in March 2023, involving the abduction and murder of American tourists, underscores these concerns according to CNN. Visitors and prospective residents must weigh the beauty against the potential dangers, enhancing home security as a precaution.
In light of these issues, it’s prudent to approach certain Mexican cities with caution. Derived from homicide statistics, government warnings, and firsthand accounts of criminal activities, a list of ten cities emerges as particularly risky.
For those dreaming of a serene life in Mexico, it’s vital to consider these facts and fortify their homes with security measures like surveillance cameras.
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Top 10 Unsafe Places
|City||Population||Overall Crime Rate (Per 100,000)||Homicide Rate (Per 100,000)|
10. Victoria: Manufacturing Hub with a Hidden Challenge
City with roughly 380,000 residents, I’ve observed its significant role as a manufacturing center. It is known for producing auto parts, garments, and microchips.
The people here are industrious, but there’s another aspect to the city. Victoria serves as a key route for drug cartels, which has escalated the murder rate to about 86 per 100,000 people, mainly due to gang conflicts according to Numbeo.
Street gangs are a visible problem, often involved in robberies and assaults on civilians. This situation has a tangible impact on the city’s safety and the well-being of its residents.
9. Juarez: Cultural Riches Shadowed by Crime
Juarez, a city with a population of 1.5 million, lies along the Rio Grande, bordering Texas.
Despite its rich cultural heritage, Juarez is notorious as a center for drug trafficking, gun smuggling, and human trafficking.
Last I heard the city’s murder rate stands at 103 per 100,000 people according to Statista.
For visitors, it’s advised to stay in groups, avoid isolated areas, and not venture out after dark. Specific risks in Juarez include taxis and pickpockets.
8. Cancun: A Tourist Paradise Facing Unseen Dangers
Cancun, situated on the Caribbean Sea, has been a globally recognized holiday spot for years.
However, several recent events have tainted its reputation.
Even with a comparatively low homicide rate of 64 per 100,000 inhabitants, crimes linked to cartels have surged as stated by Numbeo.
Crimes targeting tourists, including theft, assaults, and fraud, are increasingly common.
In response, the Mexican government has imposed regulations on Airbnb, bars, and nightclubs to bolster tourist safety.
I recommend you staying within the resort areas.
7. Irapuato: From Strawberry Fields to Streets of Caution
While Irapuato is famed for its strawberry fields, corn, and chickpea crops, it is also a perilous territory for locals and visitors.
The previous year saw 81 homicides per 100,000 people.
The strife among drug cartels often ensnares innocent bystanders.
Horrifying footage of mass shootings at bars and clubs has surfaced, and the U.S. government discourages travel to Irapuato due to assaults, armed robberies, and kidnappings.
6. Coatzacoalcos: A Historic Port City with Modern-Day Perils
Coatzacoalcos, a critical port city located at the Gulf of Mexico’s southern tip, has an enriched history dating back to the 1500s.
Sadly, it also has a high overall crime rate of 92 per 100,000.
While the homicide rate is relatively low, there are elevated incidences of assaults, thefts, muggings, and drug dealing.
5. Culiacan: The Changing Face of a Once Peaceful City
In Culiacan, I’ve seen a noticeable change over the past three years. It used to be a place with low crime, but recently, the crime rate has shot up to 84 incidents per 100,000 inhabitants.
The city has become a battleground for cartel conflicts, especially after the arrest of Ovidio Guzman, El Chapo’s son. This event turned Culiacan into the center of a deadly territorial war.
The homicide rate here is now 61 per 100,000 people according to InSight Crime. As a resident, this is alarming and makes both us locals and tourists feel unsafe.
The atmosphere in the city has become tense, and the sense of security we once had is fading away.
4. Uruapan: Natural Beauty Amidst Rising Crime
Uruapan, a city with a rich history dating back to 1533 and home to about 356,700 people. It’s known for its beautiful architecture and natural attractions like waterfalls. However, despite these appealing features, there’s a concerning side to Uruapan.
The crime rate here is 87 per 100,000 residents as per Numbeo. A significant reason for this is the rampant drug activity in the city.
This has led to an increase in muggings, carjackings, and armed thefts. It’s unsettling to know that many local establishments might be under the control of drug dealers, making even places that seem safe potentially dangerous.
A recent survey among locals, showed that only 22% of us feel safe walking around during the day. This sentiment reflects the uneasy atmosphere in Uruapan, overshadowing its historical and natural beauty.
3. Acapulco: The Fading Glamour of a Once-Luxurious Resort
Acapulco, once a glamorous vacation spot, currently records the second-highest murder rate in Mexico, with 111 per 100,000 people.
The main reason is the many poppy fields in the surrounding Guerrero region.
There are 20 cartels vying for control of these fields to produce heroin.
The United States has barred government officials from visiting Acapulco due to the prevalent crime.
2. Tijuana: A Border City of Stark Contrasts
Tijuana, a city bordering San Diego, California, I’ve seen two different worlds. While it’s a popular spot for day-trippers from the US, the reality for us, the 2,050,000 residents, is quite different.
Tijuana, once known as Mexico’s wedding capital, has drastically changed. It’s now infamous for its high murder rate, making it one of the world’s most dangerous cities.
In 2022 alone, the city experienced over 2,000 murders, which is about 138 per 100,000 people according to NBC San Diego.
The main issue here is the dominance of cartels involved in the manufacture and distribution of fentanyl. This has led to widespread violence and crime, affecting the daily lives of residents.
Despite this, most tourists who visit for the day report no problems. They usually stay in areas that are heavily patrolled and safer.
As a tourist, I advise visitors to keep a low profile, stick to well-patrolled areas, and always be vigilant against scams. It’s a city of contrasts, where the tourist experience can be vastly different from the resident’s reality.
1. Obregon: Scenic City with a Growing Safety Concern
Obregon, a city with 436,400 residents, is celebrated for its verdant mountains and delightful gastronomy.
General crime rate in Obregon is 93 per 100,000 residents according to Daily Mail.
We often hear about muggings, carjackings, thefts, and the illicit drug trade.
These incidents are common and affect the daily life and safety of the residents here.
It’s a challenging situation that contrasts sharply with the city’s natural beauty and culinary delight
Travel Precautions for Visiting Mexico
When you’re traveling in Mexico and need to get around, be careful with car rentals, taxis, or even Uber. There’s a risk of scams with these services. Instead, try using public transport. It’s actually pretty good in Mexico!
After the sun goes down, it’s best to stay within the area of your resort.
Also, if you come across any demonstrations, it’s wise to keep your distance.
As a foreigner, getting involved is not only risky but also illegal.
When you’re out and about, try to stay in busy, well-patrolled areas. It’s safer when you’re part of a crowd.
And a little tip: try not to stand out too much. Keep your cash out of sight, dress simply, go easy on the jewelry, and try to look confident and aware of your surroundings.
This way, you’ll blend in more and avoid unwanted attention.
Why is Acapulco ranked as the second most dangerous city in Mexico?
Acapulco, once a popular tourist destination, has seen an upswing in crime rates, primarily due to its proximity to the Guerrero region. This area is known for its poppy fields, and approximately 20 cartels are vying for control of these fields to produce heroin.
The city’s murder rate stands at 111 per 100,000 people. The United States has barred government officials from visiting Acapulco due to the prevailing crime rate. Regions like Renacimiento and Ciudad Renacimiento are among the riskier neighborhoods in Acapulco.
Can you explain why Culiacan has seen a rise in crime in recent years?
Culiacan, a city that previously had a relatively low crime rate, has seen a surge in criminal activity over the past few years. The general crime rate stands at 84 per 100,000 residents. The escalation is mostly attributed to conflicts among cartels, especially following the arrest of Ovidio Guzman, the son of the infamous drug lord El Chapo. The city’s homicide rate is currently 61 per 100,000 people.
Are there safety concerns for tourists in Cancun?
Cancun, a city renowned for its beautiful resorts and vibrant nightlife, has experienced an increase in crime rates recently. While the homicide rate is relatively low at 64 per 100,000 inhabitants, there has been a surge in crimes associated with cartels.
Crimes targeting tourists, including theft, assault, and fraud, are increasingly common. However, if tourists remain within the resort areas, they’re generally considered safe. The Mexican government has also implemented regulations on Airbnb and nightclubs to enhance tourist safety.
What makes Uruapan a risky city to visit?
Uruapan, home to about 356,700 residents, faces high crime rates despite its rich historical background and beautiful architecture. The city’s crime rate is at 89 per 100,000 residents, and it’s marked by a significant amount of drug activity.
Muggings, carjackings, and armed thefts are common, with many establishments being secretly run by drug peddlers. It’s important to be cautious when visiting Uruapan and stay in areas that are well-populated and frequently patrolled.
What are the main reasons behind the high crime rate in Victoria?
Victoria, a significant manufacturing center, faces a considerable amount of criminal activity, despite the hard-working nature of its population. The city’s murder rate is 86 per 100,000 people, largely due to frequent gang conflicts.
Drug cartels also use Victoria as a critical conduit, and there are high incidences of street gangs that contribute to robberies and assaults on civilians. Visitors should be cautious when visiting Victoria, especially in neighborhoods such as the downtown area, which is known to be particularly risky.
Why is Coatzacoalcos considered a high-crime area?
Coatzacoalcos is a vital port city located at the southern tip of the Gulf of Mexico. Despite its enriched history dating back to the 1500s, it has a high overall crime rate of 92 per 100,000 residents.
While the homicide rate is relatively low compared to other cities, there are increased incidences of assaults, thefts, muggings, and drug dealing. The downtown area and old town neighborhoods are particularly dangerous and should be avoided when possible.
What are some dangerous neighborhoods in Tijuana?
Tijuana is the most populous city in Baja California and is unfortunately known for its high crime rate, particularly related to drug trafficking. Some areas to be especially cautious in include Zona Norte, also known as “La Coahuila” (the city’s red light district), and Zona Este due to high levels of criminal activity.
In conclusion, while Mexico is undeniably a country of extraordinary beauty and culture, it is currently grappling with significant crime rates in various cities, primarily due to the activities of drug cartels.
Visitors are advised to exercise caution, conduct thorough research before their trip, and stay vigilant during their stay. It’s essential to remember that millions of people visit Mexico safely every year, and a well-planned trip can still lead to a rewarding and safe experience.
Please note that the content provided here is based on personal opinions, expertise, and experiences, as well as information gathered from various online sources. It reflects an individual perspective and should be considered as a subjective interpretation of life in Mexico. This narrative aims to share personal insights and experiences to offer a unique view of the city, rather than an exhaustive or universally applicable guide.