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Recent Cuenca High Article says expats are leaving Ajijic because of increasing drug violence? Hype or true?

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A recent June 8, 2015 article in Cuenca High Life Magazine says that gringos are leaving Ajijic because of drug related violence, and moving to Cuenca. It quotes comments from people actually living in Ajijic, including a retired police chief from the USA, who speak of increasing violence in your area, and Mexico in general. I can probably figure out how to cut and paste the article here if you would like? So is violence increasing in Mexico, even in places like Lakeside? Or is the article just hype? What is your experience with violence there? The article has got me a little concerned. This is one of the few questions that I think is better answered by your group experiences, rather than just my experience in an upcoming limited time frame exploratory trip,

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It is hype! I have recently met 5 couples who moved here from Cuenca, so that tells you a lot.

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Less violence here than in the US in my opinion. No drug related problems that I know of.

On the other hand I just read this on Inside Equador, "Update (June 8, 2014): We were robbed the same day this post published. We published a post discussing it today.

Earlier today El Tiempo (one of Cuenca’s two daily papers) published a map of the trouble areas in Cuenca. They identified five areas of micro trafficking of drugs. Read the full Spanish post.

Dangerous Areas In Cuenca

Here are the five worst areas, as identified by the National Police:

  • La Merced (just down from Luis Cordero on Calle Larga) La Merced is identified as selling the highest volume of narcotics in Cuenca.
  • Bus Station (Terminal Terrestre) located out by the airport
  • Cayambe (north of Avenida de las Americas, known in the papers as “la zona de tolerancia”)
  • Market Nueve de Octubre (mercado Nueve de Octubre)
  • Feria Libre (Cuencas largest open market, located on Avenida de las Americas)"

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The article appears in Cuenca High Life and suggests it's safer in Cuenca than in Ajijic? You don't suspect a little bias there? Sounds like noises from the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce or a few real estate brokers.

Now we'll hear from all the other guesses from our locals on how safe it is or isn't here at Lakeside. Without anything solid to go on, we're speaking only of our own experiences or how we see things. We've run through this before many times.

Lexy

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There is only anecdotal information based on a person's own observations living here, but to my knowledge things seem as peaceful as it has ever been in the last few years. There are no statistics to back this up, but monitoring the boards and living here seem to say things are good. Much better than a few years ago.

My sense of it is more people are researching Lakeside and visiting, if not moving here of recent.

Articles are generally based on hyping where one has a vested interest. All the publications do it. Ajijic & Chapala are up and down in the ratings, but overall one of the top 10 places to retire for a number of reasons.

I wouldn't put too much faith in articles giving you the correct lay-of-the-land, come visit, talk to the locals and the expats and make your own decision.

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The article appears in Cuenca High Life and suggests it's safer in Cuenca than in Ajijic? You don't suspect a little bias there? Sounds like noises from the Cuenca Chamber of Commerce or a few real estate brokers.

Now we'll hear from all the other guesses from our locals on how safe it is or isn't here at Lakeside. Without anything solid to go on, we're speaking only of our own experiences or how we see things. We're run through this before many times.

Lexy

"How safe" depends largely on how much trouble you and yours have had. And yes, I'd say the source of the claim in Cuenca tells the story.

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What a pile of c--p. Yes people leave Ajijic and more people come. Those leaving, with rare exceptions, are leaving for personal reasons that have nothing to do with violence, for the simple reason that there really isn't any violence to speak of in this area.

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Here is the article:

Some Mexico expats head for the exit as drug wars heat up; some go home while others relocate to new Latin American countries

Published on June 8, 2015 by: CuencaHighLife |Join the conversation

Rosanne Morris knew it was time to pull up stakes when a Canadian acquaintance was found murdered beside a highway south of Guadalajara, Mexico in early February.

Like thousands of other U.S. and Canadian expatriates, she lived in the Lake Chapala region of Mexico where she had moved from New York looking for an adventuresome and more affordable retirement. But also like other expats, she had seen crime escalate in recent years as drug cartels battled police and each other.

Ajijic, Mexico, has a large expat community although some are leaving due to increased drug crime.

Ajijic, Mexico, has a large expat community. Some are leaving due to increased drug crime.

“There is crime everywhere you live,” she said, “but hearing first-hand about more home invasions and severed heads being found in parking lots was becoming too much. Then, the guy who lives down the street from me in Ajijic is murdered and that was enough to make me leave,” she added.

Police says the victim was probably murdered for his car, which was stolen from a mall parking lot in suburban Guadalajara. From evidence recovered when the car was found, they say the crime was probably committed by drug cartel members.

Morris put her two-bedroom apartment on the market and headed south to Cuenca, Ecuador, another popular expat destination, where her sister lives. “I had lived in Mexico for nine years and hated to go. I’m happy now in Cuenca. It’s calm and safe and feels like Ajijic when I first moved there,” she said.

Morris is not the only one leaving Mexico and many believe that, after years of increasing crime, the number of foreign residents living in the country is declining. “For years, the drug related violence here was restricted to certain areas, but this is changing,” says Roger Hinson, a retired police chief from Virginia who still lives in Ajijic. “There are so many Mexicans involved with the cartels the violence is spreading to areas that did not have it before,” he says. “They are also committing crimes unrelated to the drug trade just to make a living.”

Police examine bodies after a shoot-out between drug cartel members.

Police examine bodies after a shoot-out between drug cartel members.

Among other Mexican cities that have seen increased of violence against North American expats is San Miguel de Allende, where an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 Americans and Canadians live. “The violence is not as bad as Ajijic and Guadalajara, but it is getting worse,” says Hinson. “There have been several kidnappings of expats as well as locals there. The drug people realize that there are affluent people in San Miguel and they follow the money.”

In Jalapa, in the mountains west of Vera Cruz, expat Patricia Cohen says that the majority of expats, once numbering 2,000, have left. “I’ll probably leave pretty soon,” she says. “Two weeks ago there was gun battle in the street outside my apartment. This no way to live.”

Like Morris, Cohen says she will stay in Latin America and is considering Ecuador and Panama. “I hear good things about those places and have friends living there. First, I’ll look at Panama City and Cuenca,” she says. “At this point I’m just looking for a little peace and quiet.”

After appearing to improve, drug crime violence has spiked in Mexico since 2012. Repeating what Hinson says, national police say that cartels are spreading geographically as well as into new areas of crime. “At one time, they focused only on drug activity, but there are tens of thousands of members and now they are involved in kidnappings and robberies and even petty theft,” says Jorge Lopez, a spokesman for the police. “We are trying hard to control it but now it is more difficult.”

In May, the U.S. State Department issued a warning to tourists and expats about increasing violence in Mexico. On June 1, Canada issued a similar warning, describing a “deteriorating situation.”

According to Hinson, who runs an expat website, about half those leaving are going home but the other half are moving to other Latin American countries. “A lot of them like the way of life down here and don’t want to go back north. They are mostly moving to Panama, Ecuador and Costa Rica, places that are safer and more prosperous,” he says. “Now, instead of going next door to visit my best friend, I have to go all the way to Ecuador.”

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Actually, in 2012, drug-related violence got so bad Lakeside that plenty of people were frightened, and I think we all know someone who actually moved away because of it, or someone who decided not to come here. And we nearly all had friends and relatives in our native countries concerned about us. That lasted about 4-6 months. Before that period, and after, our comfort level is high.

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Does it not say, "SOME are leaving" and not as the Op said, gringos are leaving, suggesting a mass exodus? I couldn't read the article because I found it too full of it!

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Never heard of anyone moving to Cuenca. I have heard about several people moving recently--all going north of the border and all for either health or family reasons.

I have lived here for seven years. I am a single woman and know many other single women. We all live alone. None of us feels unsafe.

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Actually, in 2012, drug-related violence got so bad Lakeside that plenty of people were frightened, and I think we all know someone who actually moved away because of it, or someone who decided not to come here. And we nearly all had friends and relatives in our native countries concerned about us. That lasted about 4-6 months. Before that period, and after, our comfort level is high.

I guess the family of these two people do not share your comfort level. This happened last year.

http://www.theguadalajarareporter.com/index.php/news/news/lake-chapala/43503-canadian-couple-beaten-to-death-in-ajijic

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The victims' families do not live here, which is what we are talking about. And that event was Feb 2014. Crime happens everywhere, including Lakeside. It's all relative. I stand by what I said, the comfort level here is high. And for that matter, why are you here then bwhite?

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Yes, that event, in La Floresta was tragic. I heard from people who knew the woman, that it was not random..... but who knows the real truth. That tragedy really did affect people.

However, I do not recall the story of a Canadian found murdered at the side of a highway. And..... no heads left in any parking lots. Did you hear those stories? Certainly, there were pleanty of horror stories three years ago, during the 4 or 5 months mentioned earlier.

I know of two couples that left at that time because of concern for violence.

I do not think that there is any place to go where you can be 100% safe.

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I agree with El Bizco. The comfort level is high at the moment. Better than in quite a few years. Though I am hearing of a lot of breakins again. Seems it comes in waves. Probably crews moving into town and then moving on to other locations.

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There are incidents of violence, murder, burglary, purse snatching, assault, scams, petty thievery, pickpocketing, con artists, etc here at Lakeside.

There are also the same incidents wherever you go in the world. As the economic divide between the "haves" and "have nots" increases, I would expect these same incidents to increase, as well.

We have been owners since 2005, full time residents since 2012. We are lucky and have not had anything like this happen to us personally.

However, relatives in the US, who live in supposedly "safe" areas, have had car breakins, burglary and property damage done to their homes.

All one can do is try to be vigilant, work at not being a target, and make your home a difficult place to enter.

In my opinion, there is no "safe haven."

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A recent June 8, 2015 article in Cuenca High Life Magazine says that gringos are leaving Ajijic because of drug related violence, and moving to Cuenca. It quotes comments from people actually living in Ajijic, including a retired police chief from the USA, who speak of increasing violence in your area, and Mexico in general. I can probably figure out how to cut and paste the article here if you would like? So is violence increasing in Mexico, even in places like Lakeside? Or is the article just hype? What is your experience with violence there? The article has got me a little concerned. This is one of the few questions that I think is better answered by your group experiences, rather than just my experience in an upcoming limited time frame exploratory trip,

Sent you a PM

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Reading the article, I do not find anything that I can disagree with. Seems to be correct, except those that I have known who left because of violence concerns/security problems returned NOB and are content and happy at this time. I know 2 others who want to return NOB, but have been unable to sell their house and can't take a significant loss. One thing for sure you will find here is that when peoples' "paradise" is under attack, they immediately bring out the standard responses "but I feel safer here than any place in the World" , or "it is much worse NOB", or "s**t happens everywhere", or "just someone writing that has never actually lived here". They do not indulge in answering the questions, but reflect the questions somewhere else(see post #3, above). In the 17 years since coming to live at Lakeside, these last 4 years are certainly more stressful and violence prone than the 13 years before. I have come to realize that during these last 4 years fewer and fewer people are returning from NOB, as they did in those first 13 years. Life is too short for many to have to engage in the necessary precautions for security and safety here that are required. Many who live here have made substantial investments, and find themselves "locked in", should they ever need to leave quickly. The weather is generally very good; living can be cheaper for those who can live on the foods that the poorer Mexicans live on; there are some good doctors and dentists, that if you are paying "out of pocket" are less expensive than if you paid "out of pocket" NOB; taxes are lower; a lot of pluses for many people. However, there are negatives. One must take care and precautions for many things that are not necessary in many places NOB, such as Dengue, Hepatitis, Typhoid, Bird Flu, etc. So, for some, stress level can rise. To top those off, since Mexico is so dependent on " the tourism dollar", disease and health concern reporting to the public by authorities is often very slow, or non existent. The same can be said about cartel violence and gang violence. This new Mexican government has locked down most of the reporting of severe violence acts, so Mexico, on the surface, appears much calmer. The state of Jalisco, where we live, is" the new frontier" for drug related violence. Chapala, a big tourism venue, is a prime drug trade target for several cartels. You will not find discussions on this Forum about these happenings, as they were almost daily before, but now that type of discussion is not allowed.

One that makes the necessary adjustments here and has lived abroad (like yourselves) should have little trouble fitting in here. The biggest concern is simply not being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am sure that you already know when and where not to go into certain areas. Suerte.

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Garth, as Lexie noted earlier, what you will read here reflects people's own experiences and how they see things.

Cstone's post number 16 is a balanced and excellent response to your question. It reflects my views and the views of people I know who are happy here.

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Guest bennie2

jimbowie, excellent read. the beheadings were several years ago, thats over. there were 2 gang shoots this year in one town (chapala), late @ night). in general its been quiet for the past 2 years, except for some breakins. comparism to the US is absurd, since USA a huge country (w/1000s of areas-some very dangerous). on a daily basis i feel safe here. it depends upon where you go & when. (location location location). weekends/holidays (last 12 yrs) bring in an element of people which im not comfortable. there was a time like 20plus years back, i would see well dressed quiet middleclass families. its changed. elder expats are a target here, thats a given, they always were. all 3rd/2nd world countries, barrios in the US have an element of danger. this is not a 5 star resort area. many US cities are changing, not as safe as they were before. people leave & move as well. my assumption is that the border areas in the US/inner cities are not well policed either. i find it posposerous to compare ajijic w/el salvador. again its the location you reside, your home security. find a good real estate agent who will honor your needs.

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I guess the family of these two people do not share your comfort level. This happened last year.

http://www.theguadalajarareporter.com/index.php/news/news/lake-chapala/43503-canadian-couple-beaten-to-death-in-ajijic

don''t mess with drugs and you won;t have any problems. Get involved with drugs and you will have a problem......I have lived here almost twenty years with out any problems. I feel saver here then I ever did in the good ole USA,

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don''t mess with drugs and you won;t have any problems. Get involved with drugs and you will have a problem......I have lived here almost twenty years with out any problems. I feel saver here then I ever did in the good ole USA,

Are you insinuating, by including my quote and link, that the elderly CDN couple was involved in drugs???????

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I just want to share my 2 cents to this thread. I have lived in Ajijic for one year and more than two years now in Chapala. I do feel safe here. I meet with friends on the malecon several evenings a week and I walk home (the last 6 or 7 minutes alone) to my house near Cristiania Park. I am out walking home alone once or twice a month even at midnight.

O.K., so you figure I have mush for brains but I don't have a problem. Two friends who did get robbed were carrying big purses and it happened during the daylight hours. I'm a guy so that may make a big difference at night as opposed to a woman walking alone. I have made friends with my neighbors and I attend the local parish church which, I think, makes me someone local people recognize even if we have never been introduced. I also greet people on the streets even at night.

When I moved to Mexico I signed up for my hometown paper on line. The place I come from is in a wooded / farming area of about 13,760 people. I'm trying to compare apples to apples as much as I can. I know that Chapala is larger than my hometown and perhaps Ajijic is as well. There are crimes reported every day in that little paper. Muggings, robberies, theft of funds from the school board or from local businesses by employees and yes, even murders at least once a month. This is in a one-horse town of 13,760 people! One big murder that occurred recently involved a minister gruesomely murdering his brother-in-law just so his wife could inherit the local farm so that he could start a ministry on it! A one-horse town in the middle of nowhere, U.S.A. ! Would I feel safe back there? Probably yes (except for those terrible winters). I'm only trying to point out that even in that small little town you frequently find rapes, murders, robberies, muggings, break-ins (almost daily in the paper), vandalism, arson...and there are places where I probably couldn't walk at night. Chapala is much bigger and there are neighborhoods I would avoid even in the daylight but for the most part I can walk almost anywhere in Chapala Centro without looking over my shoulder.

Do I feel safe here? Yes. That isn't just a gut response to a negative article. It is a realistic response to living here while still keeping in touch with the happenings in my former hometown through family, friends and the local online newspaper.

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The article is several years behind the times. Things have changed for the better since then.

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I always thought this detailed 2014 article, by U.S. Dept of State, was fairly accurate.

https://www.osac.gov/pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=15620

Chapala/Ajijic is not even mentioned, and certainly not highlighted on anyone's security map. Tourism is minimal. It is a quiet, backwater town. I wouldn't even say "quaint" because there are many much more attractive and interesting destinations within the same, or closer, traveling distances from Centro Guadalajara.There only two 3 star hotels in the area, MonteCarlo and Nuevo Pasada - they are quite obviously empty every time I have looked in.

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