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Crime and Safety in Mexico for Tourists

Many people have asked "is it safe to travel in Mexico?". My answer to them is a qualified YES. There are problems in part of Mexico such as the border cities, Mexico City and area, parts of Sinaloa state, and some isolated areas, but the vast majority of tourist destination in Mexico are probably safer than cities such as Los Angeles, Detroit, Miami, etc. I don't have detailed statistics, but I bet there are more tourists robbed, assaulted or killed in any week in Los Angeles than in all of Mexico. But as soon as a tourist is assaulted in Mexico it seems to make the national headlines in Canada and the USA. All those tourists assaulted/robbed in Los Angeles or Miami hardly make local headlines.

Even the governments issue travel warnings for Mexico, but have they ever issued travel warnings against travel to California, or Florida or other high crime areas in the USA, or places like Vancouver Canada, of course not! The Mexican people need the tourist trade to feed their families, and it is not fair that their country is singled out by the media. There are millions of Canadian and American tourists that travel to Mexico every year, totally safely! The main tourist destinations are generally safe, with only petty crimes, like any tourist destination in the world. You can't name a tourist destination anywhere in the world that is totally safe from petty crime!

That being said, there are some simple precautions that tourists should take in any country. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption and stupid behavior. Don't flash money or valuables in bars and public places. Don't try to pick up a Mexican lady if there seems to be a Mexican man that she may be with (Mexican men can be quite macho, and most violence in Mexico other that drug violence, is over a woman). Avoid taking RV's into isolated areas, in fact in my opinion, you shouldn't even take an RV into Mexico unless you caravan with others, or go straight to an RV park. Most Mexicans don't use RV's, so an RV targets you as a foreign tourist, which may be of interest to criminals. Parking an RV in an isolated spot is an invitation to criminals, and they know that tourists are not allowed to carry guns. They also know the police are not that efficient, nor are they well equipped.

Drive carefully but not too cautiously. Mexicans usually drive quite aggressively. On local highways there are government "green angels" that patrol and help tourists with car troubles, stay with your automobile. Toll roads have their own private patrol vehicles. Mexicans will probably try to help you, and 99% of them are honest and trustworthy. Use your judgement on accepting help. If they have women and children present, they are almost certain to be trustworthy. Generally, Mexicans will go out of their way to help anyone that has troubles. I have heard many stories on how a Mexican family will spend hours helping a tourist with car troubles.

Mexico is caught in the between the demand for drugs from the USA and the drug suppliers in South and Central America. It is used as a transfer point because of the large border with the USA that is nearly impossible to totally protect. Mexican gangs that are moving these drugs have become totally ruthless, but most of their killings have been against competing drug gang members, or honest police trying to do their jobs, but not tourists.

One of the biggest problems in Mexico generally is the lack of police protection and investigation. Police are not paid very well in Mexico, so they don't attract the best recruits. Some police are corrupt, but most are not. If a police officer tries to shake you down, don't argue, pay him off. You don't want to go to jail in Mexico, and you don't have the same rights under Mexican laws, as you would in the USA or Canada.

Mexico is a wonderful place to visit and the Mexican people are generous and friendly. Don't be afraid to travel to Mexico, just take a few simple and common sense precautions!

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