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Reviewed: 22 December 2011, 13:00 NZDT
Still current at: 21 May 2013
There is high risk to your security in the city of Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua due to the high level of drug-related violence and we advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel.
There is some risk to your security elsewhere in Mexico due to the high level of violent crime and drug-related violence and we advise a high degree of caution.
There has been a significant increase in drug-related violence in Mexico in recent years. The worst affected areas are the northern states of Mexico bordering the United States (Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas), including the cities of Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Tijuana, Mexicali, Matamoros, Nogales, Monterrey, Piedras Negras, Tampico and Reynosa. States along the Pacific coast are also affected (Durango, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit and Sinaloa). On 25 August 2011, a daylight arson attack by armed gunman on a casino in Monterrey resulted in the deaths of at least 52 people.
Driving on the rural highways in any of these states is considered dangerous due to the presence of drug cartels. Carjackings, illegal roadblocks and armed robberies occur, including on major highways. The Mexican authorities have increased the number of security forces in the worst affected areas. However, armed clashes between security forces and drug cartels can occur without warning and it is possible innocent bystanders may get caught up in violence directed at others.
New Zealanders travelling through these states are advised to be vigilant about personal security at all times, stay alert to their surroundings, avoid any travel by road at night, travel in convoy where possible and avoid isolated areas. When driving, it is advisable to keep car doors locked and windows up at all times.
Violent crime including kidnapping, armed robbery and sexual assault is an issue in Mexico, including in popular tourist areas. There have been reports of assaults being committed by persons who represent themselves as police officers. New Zealanders throughout Mexico are advised to be security conscious at all times, avoid travelling or walking alone (especially at night), particularly in tourist areas and when using public transport.
Petty crime such as pick-pocketing and bag snatching is prevalent in tourist destinations, airports, bus stations, and on the metro in Mexico City, especially after dark. New Zealanders are advised to take particular care of personal belongings in these areas and avoid displaying or wearing items that appear valuable, such as cameras and jewellery.
Incidents of “express kidnapping”, where individuals are forced to withdraw funds from automatic teller machines (ATMs) to secure their release, particularly in urban areas is increasing. The use of ATMs located inside shopping malls during daylight hours may reduce the risk.
Kidnapping for financial gain also occurs in Mexico and there have been allegations of complicity by police officers. We recommend discretion when discussing your financial or business affairs so as not to present yourself as a prospective target.
Virtual kidnapping by phone is a common scam in Mexico. If you receive a call from someone demanding payment for the release of an arrested or kidnapped family member you should not divulge any personal information but take the phone number of the person calling and report the call to the nearest police station.
Demonstrations, protests and strikes occur frequently in Mexico and have the potential to disrupt local travel. The Mexican Constitution expressly prohibits political activity by foreigners and participation in such action may result in detention and/or deportation. New Zealanders are advised to avoid any areas where demonstrations and protests are taking place as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning. We recommend you adhere to any restrictions and instructions issued by the local authorities.
Oaxaca has experienced violent civil unrest in recent years, including an attack on a humanitarian convoy in April 2010 which resulted in the deaths of two people. Foreigners have not been targeted in the past but violence has occurred in places frequented by foreigners.
The police on occasion are known to ask foreigners to show identification. We recommend you carry photocopies of the relevant pages of your passport and important documents and leave the originals in a safe place.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Mexico should have comprehensive medical and travel insurance policies in place that include provision for medical evacuation by air.
New Zealanders travelling to or residing in Mexico are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Contact details are
Street address Jaime Balmes No 8, 4th Floor, Los Morales, Polanco, Mexico D.F. 11510
Telephone +52 55 5283 9460 Fax +52 55 5283 9480
Office hours Mon – Fri 0930-1400, 1500-1700 hrs