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Josiane

Is it still safe to drive to Mexico

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It's that time of year again when we're warned about driving to Mexico or avoiding Mexico in general. We will be driving to Melaque, via Arizona, either Nogales or Yuma, not sure which. We did it two years ago and it was fine. I just read about the 6 "Americans" killed in Ciudad Juarez which is not a predictor of things happening all over Mexico. If you've traveled there by car recently please let me know how it went. We will be leaving around the 10th. of December. Thanks.

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It's that time of year again when we're warned about driving to Mexico or avoiding Mexico in general. We will be driving to Melaque, via Arizona, either Nogales or Yuma, not sure which. We did it two years ago and it was fine. I just read about the 6 "Americans" killed in Ciudad Juarez which is not a predictor of things happening all over Mexico. If you've traveled there by car recently please let me know how it went. We will be leaving around the 10th. of December. Thanks.

We travel every day by car with no problems.

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The last time we drove down from AZ (crossing at Naco) was this past June with no problems. We've driven that route once or twice a year since 2008, never an issue on Hwy. 15, cuota.

Have seen the recent warning from Hermosilla Consulate, posted on this forum, as well, about Hwy 15.

Anecdotally, I can tell you that friends of ours drove from Mazatlan to Bisbee (and back) 3 times between late September and late October, with no hassle of any sort.

The usual cautions of driving in full daylight, staying on the cuota, apply.

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I just read about the 6 "Americans" killed in Ciudad Juarez which is not a predictor of things happening all over Mexico.

I'm curious to know why you used quotes when you mentioned that Americans had been killed in Ciudad Juárez.

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Josiane, all the ones who were killed driving down here recently will not respond on this forum. Only those who got here safely live to talk about it. I have driven back and forth for years but I am becoming more reticent to do so. I may start flying more often. I certainly have changed where I cross depending on where the most troubles are happening. I used to always cross at Brownsville/Matamoros (I live in Quintana Roo) but am not inclined to use that border crossing right now. Wherever you decide to cross based on current news of gunbattles, do it early and quickly get away from the border.

Liana, I think you know the answer to your question but it will be interesting to see what Josiane's response is.

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It's that time of year again when we're warned about driving to Mexico or avoiding Mexico in general. We will be driving to Melaque, via Arizona, either Nogales or Yuma, not sure which. We did it two years ago and it was fine. I just read about the 6 "Americans" killed in Ciudad Juarez which is not a predictor of things happening all over Mexico. If you've traveled there by car recently please let me know how it went. We will be leaving around the 10th. of December. Thanks.

U.S. Consulate General Hermosillo

American Citizen Services Office

Ave. Monterrey 141 Poniente

Ph: (662) 289-3500, ext. 3595/3522/3417

E-mail hermoACS@state.gov

Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico

Changes to Travel Policy

This Warden Message updates U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Mexico of the change to travel procedures for personnel at U.S. Consulate General Hermosillo. Due to the extreme threats of violence along Highway 15/Benito Juarez Autopista between Estacion Don and Guamuchil, Sinaloa, all official travel through this area is prohibited. All official travel by U.S. government employees to other locations in the state of Sinaloa must be conducted in armored vehicles. The single exception to the requirement to use armored vehicles when traveling in Sinaloa is within the city limits of Mazatlan, where U.S. government personnel are permitted to use non-armored vehicles for travel.

Due to increased security concerns in southern Sonora, all official travel south of Ciudad Obregon will be performed in armored GOVs and with police escorts. No personal travel of any kind is allowed for Consulate Hermosillo employees south of Navojoa, Sonora. U.S. government personnel traveling through Ciudad Obregon and Navojoa towards Alamos should exercise extreme caution. Travel to the mountainous areas in eastern Sonora is prohibited. In general terms, this applies to all travel east of the line drawn north to south from Nacozari de Garcia through Moctezuma, through Arivechi, through Rosaria and ending in Alamos.

Due to widespread violence across portions of the Nogales Consular District, including the city of Nogales, and because of the threat of known drug trafficking activity throughout northern Sonora, all official travel to/in the Nogales Consular District must be in armored GOVs. At this time, personal travel between the U.S. border at Nogales, AZ, to Hermosillo in personally owned vehicles is permitted for Consulate employees only on Mexican toll road Highway 15 during daylight hours.

______________________________________________________________________________________

Expats seem to like to take chances that Mexicans would not take. More and more residents traveling by auto in this area are equally heavily armed as the bad guys- they could be just as dangerous Traveling in June - has nothing to do with what is going on today- or possibly in December

Danger to everyone is getting worse not better ,especially traveling south from Nogales thru Navajoa- If American Consular officials need a police escort and armored vehicles- why do Gringos think they will be OK, if they just drive in daylight???

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Food for thought:

Most incidents happen in the hours of darkness and/or in areas not frequented by tourists.

Many of the "American" victims were dual citizens and are legally 'Mexicans' when in Mexico.

Some victims were in 'unsavory places' and/or also involved with drugs.

Some victims refused to stop at roadblocks.

We still don't have any acquaintances who are 'dead victims'.

Friends are still moving to Mexico.

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I have spoken personally to 8 snowbirds who have driven down from Canada in the last 2 weeks. They informed me that they saw many more police patrols than previous years but had no problems what so ever.

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When we went to the US in May, we did so without problems. As others have observed, the number of stops seems to have increased. We saw 3 Federal Police stops but they seemed to be interested in trucks. The army actually went through our things at the border, a first in 5 years of living down here (they usually wave us through). Most of the problems are right on the border or in Monterey and we avoiding stopping in either place. We stick to the cuotas and never drive after dark.

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I'm curious to know why you used quotes when you mentioned that Americans had been killed in Ciudad Juárez.

I should have specified that they were Mexican-American,with dual citizenship. I used the quote because that's the way it's been reported on in the media, there is a lot of fear mongering when it comes to traveling in Mexico and this kind of reporting only stokes the fires.

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Thanks for all the replies, it certainly is food for thought. We had been thinking of crossing at Nogales but I now think that it will be better to cross at Yuma. We do not, as of yet, have an armored vehicle and don't intend on getting one in the future. LOL

Thank you again, I especially love the post regarding people who are dead and no longer able to respond so keep on living.

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Guest petirroja

One, I'd like to know how others know that all of the individuals killed were "dual citizens", and two, why it is assumed by some that "they" were involved in with some aspect of the drug trade and organized crime. In Mexico it is true that dual citizens are most often considered nationals IN MEXICO by the authorities, however, for the American government they are Americans, period. I'll go one farther than "more liana"...it is truly sad that because an individual has a Latino sounding name, they are more often than not, assumed to be Mexican citizens. I sometimes think there are people out there who just don't think such victims really count. As most of us know, there was also a Canadian businessman killed recently in Acapulco and to date he has not been tied to the drug trade and the US Embassy and our local consulate have said that a number of Americans have been kidnapped and/or killed over the past several years.

I really don't want this to be polemic...these are my own thoughts and my own reactions on the subject. I am not flaming or blaming anyone else who has posted, just blowing off a little steam on an issue that has always bothered me.

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One, I'd like to know how others know that all of the individuals killed were "dual citizens", and two, why it is assumed by some that "they" were involved in with some aspect of the drug trade and organized crime. In Mexico it is true that dual citizens are most often considered nationals IN MEXICO by the authorities, however, for the American government they are Americans, period. I'll go one farther than "more liana"...it is truly sad that because an individual has a Latino sounding name, they are more often than not, assumed to be Mexican citizens. I sometimes think there are people out there who just don't think such victims really count. As most of us know, there was also a Canadian businessman killed recently in Acapulco and to date he has not been tied to the drug trade and the US Embassy and our local consulate have said that a number of Americans have been kidnapped and/or killed over the past several years.

I really don't want this to be polemic...these are my own thoughts and my own reactions on the subject. I am not flaming or blaming anyone else who has posted, just blowing off a little steam on an issue that has always bothered me.

I completely agree with you. There is definitely a double standard at work. It's okay to be an American citizen when the object of the news reporting is to heighten fear levels, at other times it's best to be Mexican so that the violence can be attributed to an unsavory connection in the drug trade.

It seems it's not a win win proposition that's for sure.

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I have spoken personally to 8 snowbirds who have driven down from Canada in the last 2 weeks. They informed me that they saw many more police patrols than previous years but had no problems what so ever.

Thanks Julia, do you know which crossing they used? We will be driving from British Columbia.

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Thanks Julia, do you know which crossing they used? We will be driving from British Columbia.

I know that 2 of the cars came through Monterrey ,Mexico.

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Just out of curiosity do you know anybody who has crossed at Nogales recently, those warnings sound pretty dire.

We crossed at Nogales in late May going to Ajijic, and early October going back to Phoenix. No problem whatsoever. Nada. Zip.

There were more security/inspection stops in October (northbound). Mostly, they were looking for fruit. We shared our dried apricots with them. Most also smiled and wanted to pet the dog.

At this time, we have no hesitation using that border crossing, nor any of the cuotas during daylight.

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Just out of curiosity do you know anybody who has crossed at Nogales recently, those warnings sound pretty dire.

Our friends drove from Mazatlan to Naco, crossing 5 times at Naco (2 1/2 round trips) between September 28 and October 31. The turnoff for Naco from Route 15 (which runs from Guadalajara to Nogales) is about 60 miles south of Nogales. They had no problems.

The Hermosillo Consulate Travel warning is very recent (issued in early November) but does not include any specific events/dates/times that lead to the warning.

Perhaps you can get more details by calling the US Consulate in Hermosilla, the office that issued the warning, or by contacting someone at the State Department.

Maybe the Warden for our area can explain this: when I go to the warning page for US citizens traveling in Mexico, the warning from Hermosillo is not posted. US State Dept. Maybe it's somewhere else on the www.state.gov site and I can't find it, or maybe that site is woefully out of date, or maybe there is a lack of coordination between individual consulates and the Home Office in DC.

We don't plan to drive up to AZ again until late spring 2011. But if we were going now, I'd certainly try to contact the State Department for more clarification.

It is indeed a rather dire warning, as someone else characterized it.

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One, I'd like to know how others know that all of the individuals killed were "dual citizens", and two, why it is assumed by some that "they" were involved in with some aspect of the drug trade and organized crime. In Mexico it is true that dual citizens are most often considered nationals IN MEXICO by the authorities, however, for the American government they are Americans, period. I'll go one farther than "more liana"...it is truly sad that because an individual has a Latino sounding name, they are more often than not, assumed to be Mexican citizens. I sometimes think there are people out there who just don't think such victims really count. As most of us know, there was also a Canadian businessman killed recently in Acapulco and to date he has not been tied to the drug trade and the US Embassy and our local consulate have said that a number of Americans have been kidnapped and/or killed over the past several years.

I really don't want this to be polemic...these are my own thoughts and my own reactions on the subject. I am not flaming or blaming anyone else who has posted, just blowing off a little steam on an issue that has always bothered me.

I asked the question deliberately--and in the most neutral way possible--because I did not want to make any assumptions about the OP or her reasons for posting the way she did. Unlike the OP, I have not seen the English-language press use quotation marks in referring to these Americans killed in Mexico.

I agree with Petirroja, many, many people north of the border believe that Mexican victims don't count. Many, many people believe that José Fulano, because he has a Mexican name, must be involved with drug trafficking. Many, many people have prejudices, conscious or unconscious. That whole situation is more than unfortunate.

OP, thank you for answering my question.

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One, I'd like to know how others know that all of the individuals killed were "dual citizens", and two, why it is assumed by some that "they" were involved in with some aspect of the drug trade and organized crime. In Mexico it is true that dual citizens are most often considered nationals IN MEXICO by the authorities, however, for the American government they are Americans, period. I'll go one farther than "more liana"...it is truly sad that because an individual has a Latino sounding name, they are more often than not, assumed to be Mexican citizens. I sometimes think there are people out there who just don't think such victims really count. As most of us know, there was also a Canadian businessman killed recently in Acapulco and to date he has not been tied to the drug trade and the US Embassy and our local consulate have said that a number of Americans have been kidnapped and/or killed over the past several years.

I really don't want this to be polemic...these are my own thoughts and my own reactions on the subject. I am not flaming or blaming anyone else who has posted, just blowing off a little steam on an issue that has always bothered me.

I agree with your points on the Latino names -etc

However, the Canadian businessman was NOT a casual tourist -

Dion, 51, of Carleton Place, Ont., was convicted in 1993 on one count of possession of a concealed weapon, one count of marijuana possession and one count of production of marijuana. Between 1982 and 1996, he faced at least 45 charges, including a number of drug- and gun-related counts. He was acquitted on most of the charges, a check of his criminal record has shown.

Read more:

And he may have been breaking the law in breaking the law in Mexico - http://www.citytv.com/toronto/citynews/news/international/article/98774--canadian-killed-in-mexico-spoke-of-high-connections-prison-access

One of Dion's businesses, Ecopurse, sold handbags made by prisoners at several penal institutions, as well as home-based Mexican labourers.

In a August 2009 interview with Guerrero-based news agency Irza, Dion said that both Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Federal District Governor Marcelo Ebrard knew about his business. He said he paid his workers at least double the state's minimum wage to assemble the purses from recycled materials.

When asked how he was able to gain access to the prisons and prisoners, Dion told the reporter that he had a "verbal" agreement with the state's public safety chief, General Heriberto Salinas Altes.

"I'm trusted....The (labour) law doesn't permit it. In Mexico it could be very complicated...I have a verbal agreement with everyone," Dion was reported as saying.

Dion also explained how he was able to move freely in and out of prisons, without having to undergo the usual security checks.

On the other hand, it appears the 18 mexicans recently slaughtered in Acapulco were indeed casual tourists.

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Guest petirroja

I agree with your points on the Latino names -etc. However, the Canadian businessman was NOT a casual tourist -

Max, thanks so much for the information on the Canadian - I clearly missed reading about it further and stand corrected.

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Re: the Acapulco 'tourists'...this came from Carol Schmidt on the Falling In Love with San Miguel forum.

According to this week's Stratfor.com Mexico Security Memo, which cites Reforma newspaper sources, the 22 alleged tourists from Morelia who were kidnapped in Acapulco (2 escaped) were definitely part of La Familia Michoacan, not the innocent tourists they claimed to be.

They were sent to Acapulco with orders to confront what is now called the Cartel de Sierra (part of the former Beltran Leyva cartel headed by La Barbie).

Part of their assignments for " heating up the area" included assassinating the mayor of Acapulco and other towns, and attacking local schools. La Barbie, Edgar Valdez Villarreal, who was himself arrested in August, ordered their kidnapping.

La Familia Michoacan has attempted to seize control of the Acapulco area, long under Beltrran Leyva, for several years.

At least 21 deaths have resulted since the kidnappings related to La Familia Michoacan's attempts to wrest control of Acapulco, the Stratfor Security Memo states.

Carol Schmidt

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Re: the Acapulco 'tourists'...this came from Carol Schmidt on the Falling In Love with San Miguel forum.

According to this week's Stratfor.com Mexico Security Memo, which cites Reforma newspaper sources, the 22 alleged tourists from Morelia who were kidnapped in Acapulco (2 escaped) were definitely part of La Familia Michoacan, not the innocent tourists they claimed to be.

They were sent to Acapulco with orders to confront what is now called the Cartel de Sierra (part of the former Beltran Leyva cartel headed by La Barbie).

Part of their assignments for " heating up the area" included assassinating the mayor of Acapulco and other towns, and attacking local schools. La Barbie, Edgar Valdez Villarreal, who was himself arrested in August, ordered their kidnapping.

La Familia Michoacan has attempted to seize control of the Acapulco area, long under Beltrran Leyva, for several years.

At least 21 deaths have resulted since the kidnappings related to La Familia Michoacan's attempts to wrest control of Acapulco, the Stratfor Security Memo states.

Carol Schmidt

interesting - as strator.com is a pretty good source - so not the friends that worked together in a car repair shop(or something similar) out for an innocent vacation - as reported by more than one mexican newspaper -

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Last week friends drove to Tucson and back up hwy 15 with no problems.

Yesterday some people came from Idaho same way no problems and they have never been to Mexico.

My suggestion as we are making the drive at the end of the month up hwy 15 is to not stay in the state of Sinaloa, unless it is in Los Mochis.

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interesting - as strator.com is a pretty good source - so not the friends that worked together in a car repair shop(or something similar) out for an innocent vacation - as reported by more than one mexican newspaper -

The PGR (Federal Prosecutor) office in Guerrero still says the kidnapping was probably a case of mistaken identity and there is alot of circumstantial information that supports that. Regardless of why they were in Acapulco, clearly the group were casualties of the intercartel war between the Beltran-Leyva faction and La Familia Michoacana that is going on in that city.

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