The truth behind Mexico Drug Violence
Mexico gets a bad rap for its constant appearance in the news for drugs, violence and illegal immigration issues. It often makes the list of countries to which governments, including America’s, warn citizens against traveling. While these are certainly problems with which to contend in the country, their occurrence is often inflated by the media. Moreover, the population most at risk for coming in contact with these types of crimes are Mexicans themselves. It is entirely possible to have a nice vacation in Mexico, and the more than 20 million tourists who visit the country each year confirm this view.
Intense problems with drug gangs do exist in Mexico, but if you stay out of the wrong areas, you should be fine. The U.S. government has advised its citizens against travel to Ciudad Juarez because of ongoing violence related to the drug trade. Murders statistics are grim in this area and they haven‘t excluded travelers. More than 100 U.S. residents were murdered in instances of drug violence in Mexico in 2010, including law enforcement and government officials and bystanders. However, this number is small compared to the more than 15,000 Mexicans who died because of violence the same year. Still, officials claim 2010 was a particularly brutal year that saw about a third more deaths than 2009.
While many visitors have been killed by gunmen opening fire on a location, at least one women shot to death was targeted for her car. Some people have inexplicably vanished, never to be seen again. A Canadian man was shot in early 2011 -- he’s expected to make a full recovery -- when he got caught in the crossfire of rival gang members while walking to the mall in Mazatlan.
Areas along the border between Mexico and America are naturally some of the most dangerous, such as Juarez and San Fernando. Others with high rates of violence include Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, Monterrey and Matamoros. Other problematic areas in recent years have included Cuernavaca, Durango, Matamoros, Torreón in Coahuila, Cuernavaca and the states of Guerrero, Sinaloa and Michoacán. Some of the violence has spread to touristy areas like Cancun and Acapulco, but thus far, few travelers have been harmed by crimes directly related to drugs.
The facts remain that you’re most likely to be a victim of violence if you travel through unstable border towns, where you can get caught in the crossfire of drug gangs or robbed or assaulted for your car or other possessions, or if you participate in the drug trade yourself. Americans have been killed while working for cartels, and drug dealers are relatively easy to find. One recent traveler said 5th Avenue in downtown Playa del Carmen is home to men who try to sell you hammocks, then something you can smoke or snort. The visitor described these men as rough-looking, often tattooed characters. Trying to buy drugs from these types of figures is a plain stupid thing to do. Being aware and avoiding dangerous areas and shady people will help ensure you have a harmless time in this major tourist destination.
Author: Phil Sylvester
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