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Violent crime, including homicides and kidnappings, is a risk. Some hotels and restaurants have been the scene of inter-gang or cartel fighting. Travelers have reported tainted or unregulated alcohol that made them sick and blackout.

While the State Department discourages travel to some Mexican states, major tourist areas are not listed as unsafe.


After years of drug-related violence that left 47,000 people dead under President Felipe Calderon, President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in January 2013 with promises of a new strategy. But the gruesome images of mass killings continue to cast a shadow over the country’s most popular tourist destinations.

Homicide rates are high, kidnappings common and carjacking rampant in Mexico’s most famous beach resort areas, such as Cancun, Los Cabos and Acapulco. Inter-gang and cartel fighting often spills into restaurants, hotels and nightclubs frequented by tourists. Innocent bystanders may be caught in the crossfire. Border regions are particularly dangerous, where drug-trafficking organisations battle each other and Mexican authorities for territory and control of trafficking routes. Shootouts, attacks and illegal roadblocks can occur with little warning.

Visitors can also become victims of petty crime, including pickpocketing, bag snatching and theft of personal belongings on buses, trains and metro systems. It’s best to carry a small amount of cash and avoid carrying valuable items, including expensive watches or jewellery. It’s advisable to avoid travelling on public transport at night, especially the less reliable “colectivos” and “pesero” mini-buses that stop whenever they’re hailed.

Foreigners have been attacked and robbed at beaches, in markets and on rural roads. Visitors have also been targeted for robbery in the city of Mexico, where the government recommends that women travel only with companions and use taxis displaying official identification.

Gun crime is widespread throughout the country. Those who hire private vehicles should follow security advice for the area they’re visiting and always leave their vehicle in a secure parking lot. In the capital, travellers are advised to stay within the safe zones of the city centre and never carry large amounts of money or wear expensive jewellery.

Demonstrations can turn violent and may target foreigners, so it’s best to avoid all political activities. It’s also illegal for foreigners to participate in political protests, and it’s a good idea to monitor local media and move away from any potentially tense situations. Travellers should also be aware of mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika virus.



Drug cartels are a persistent problem in Mexico, where they continue to wreak havoc on the country’s tourism sector. They have exploited the country’s weak prison system, police and governmental corruption and are able to operate openly and freely in many sectors of society. The drug trade has also accelerated in recent years, driven by demand in the United States and elsewhere for highly addictive synthetic drugs like methamphetamine and fentanyl.

The use of these drugs is widespread among Mexicans. The main government survey of drug consumption trends shows that the percentage of Mexicans who reported using illicit drugs in their lifetime nearly doubled from 2008 to 2016. The country is a major producer and transporter of these chemicals, but its consumption of them also has increased dramatically.

While the drug supply has shifted from large amounts of narcotics like cocaine, heroin and marijuana into small batches of synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine and fentanyl, Mexican authorities have done little to target pharmacies selling fentanyl-laced pills in tourist areas. In a series of tests, The Times found that pharmacies in Tijuana and Los Cabos were selling pills that claimed to be Oxycodone, Xanax or Adderall but actually contained fentanyl or other more powerful drugs.

At one pharmacy in a resort area, a $25 blue pill sold as oxycodone tested positive for fentanyl, while a green tablet sold as Adderall came up negative for the medication’s active ingredients, dextroamphetamine and amphetamine, but did contain methamphetamine. In a follow-up test, The Times purchased pills at other pharmacies in the same tourist spots and tested them with at-home kits that detect fentanyl as well as laboratory tests to determine what drugs they were actually made of.

It is easy to find these tainted pills in places like the sparse, open-air shopping plazas near Tijuana’s red light district and in the yacht-lined harbors of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. At pharmacies in these areas, tourists often walk up to the counter and ask for a certain pill and offer payment in cash or credit cards. In several cases, the pharmacies did not ask for a prescription or question why the tourists wanted the medications. In most shops, the more potent medicines were kept behind the counter and less tightly controlled drugs were on display in glass cases.

Drug Cartels

The drug cartels in Mexico are a problem for all Mexicans, but they have also become a big problem for tourists. In recent months, gang violence has erupted around many tourist destinations, including resort towns such as Cancun and Tulum. These clashes usually involve drug cartels fighting each other, not the police or military, and they can result in people getting hurt or killed. Some travelers have been forced to stay away from these tourist spots, while others have been caught in the crossfire of drug cartel gangs.

It’s important to remember that drug cartels don’t just traffic drugs, they also engage in other criminal activities such as extortion (especially of avocado and lime farmers), oil pipeline tapping and even cattle ranching. The cartels often compete for territory in different states, too. For example, the emerging power in Jalisco is the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, or CJNG, and it controls or fights for territory in Guanajuato, Michoacan, Baja California and Guerrero. It’s a very complicated web of crime, and the map of cartel-controlled territories is constantly changing.

A lot of the gang violence in Mexico is caused by drug cartels competing for business from local residents and visitors. Criminals have figured out that selling drugs to tourists is a lucrative business, and they are taking advantage of it. The cartels that sell drugs to tourists usually don’t target foreigners specifically, but the violence and fear they cause can make other locals reluctant to visit certain areas.

As the cartels battle for control of their turf, the government is trying to stop them by deploying the National Guard and creating informal police tent cities along popular beaches and major tourist sites. But experts say that this is a short-term solution and doesn’t address the root causes of the gang violence.

Andres Sumano, a security analyst in Tijuana, says the gangs that sell drugs to tourists are not only making money from drug sales but they’re also filling their coffers with protection fees paid by local businesses. This money allows the gangs to get even more aggressive in their war against each other, with innocent people getting hurt as the two sides battle it out.


The captivating allure of Mexico’s dazzling culture, delectable cuisine and breathtaking landscapes has captivated the hearts of many American tourists. In fact, statistics show that Mexico continues to be the number one destination for American travelers in 2019.

This statistic speaks volumes about the country’s ability to entice travelers to come to the Mexican shores despite crime and safety concerns.

Tourism is a major part of the country’s economy. It brings in $25 billion a year from international visitors alone. The money is used for all kinds of things in the country, from improving the infrastructure to preserving cultural heritage sites and natural ecosystems. It is also used to promote the country, especially during special events.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you book your trip. First of all, follow the advisories issued by your home government’s agencies before you travel to any specific part of the country. This will help you stay away from areas that are not safe to be in.

Road conditions can vary throughout the country. While toll highways are usually safer and better maintained, secondary highways have been the site of several traffic accidents that have killed travellers. Many drivers in Mexico do not obey traffic laws and are often reckless or aggressive. They may also be distracted by cell phones and alcohol.

Some bars, restaurants and resorts have served counterfeit alcohol to tourists. This can make you sick or even black out. Height standards for balcony railings in some resorts are lower than those in Canada, and have caused falls that resulted in injuries or deaths. There are also risks associated with drinking water in the country, as it may contain bacteria or parasites that can cause illness.

In the cities, you might experience protests or demonstrations that can be violent. They can last for a long time, disrupting services and causing shortages of food, medicine and gasoline. You should avoid any areas where a protest is happening and stay away from crowds or areas that are crowded.

Some beach resorts in Mexico do not have lifeguards, and riptides can be dangerous for swimmers. It is also important to keep in mind that the weather in Mexico can change quickly. It can get very hot and humid in summer, and cold and rainy during winter.


By tourist

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