Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, attracting millions of visitors each year. However, not all parts of Mexico are safe for travelers. In this article, we will take a closer look at the most dangerous cities in Mexico in 2023.
Tijuana, located in the state of Baja California, is considered the most dangerous city in Mexico. It has a high rate of homicides and drug-related violence, making it a hotspot for criminal activity. The homicide rate in Tijuana is a staggering 138 per 100,000 people, which is significantly higher than the national average.
Tijuana is known as the main entry point for drugs coming from South America, making it a hub for cartel activity. Its close proximity to the border with the United States also contributes to its high levels of criminality, with human trafficking and organized crime being prevalent issues.
Due to its alarming homicide rate, Tijuana is not only considered the most dangerous city in Mexico but also the most dangerous city in the world, according to homicide rate statistics.
Acapulco, a popular beach destination on the Pacific coast of Mexico, is another city plagued by violence. Despite its picturesque beaches, Acapulco is one of the most dangerous cities in the country. It has a homicide rate of 111 per 100,000 people, well above the national average.
Drug-related violence is a major issue in Acapulco, as various cartels battle for control over the city’s lucrative drug trade. The state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, is infamous for its high levels of violence and turmoil due to turf wars between gangs. Additionally, Guerrero is known for its production of heroin, further contributing to the city’s dangerous environment.
Ciudad Victoria, located in the state of Tamaulipas, is one of the most violent cities in Mexico. It has a homicide rate of 86 per 100,000 people, making it a dangerous place to live or visit. Similar to other dangerous cities in Mexico, Ciudad Victoria is a hot spot for drug-related violence.
Tamaulipas sits just beyond the U.S. border, making it an entryway city for drug trafficking. The Northeast Cartel is actively running their operations in Ciudad Victoria, contributing to the city’s high levels of violence and insecurity.
Located on the border with the United States, Ciudad Juarez is another city known for its violence. Residents of El Paso, Texas can see Ciudad Juarez from their side of the Rio Grande. With a homicide rate of 86 per 100,000 people, it is one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico.
Ciudad Juarez is a major hub for drug trafficking and has experienced a sharp rise in violence due to turf wars between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels. Both of these powerful cartels have a strong presence in Ciudad Juarez, leading to high levels of criminal activity and insecurity.
Irapuato, located in the central state of Guanajuato, has seen a significant increase in homicides in recent years. The city has a homicide rate of 81 per 100,000 people, making it one of the most unsafe cities for tourists and locals alike.
The rise in homicides in Irapuato is primarily attributed to drug-related violence and turf wars between the Jalisco Cartel New Generation and the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel. These rival cartels are engaged in a violent battle for control over the drug trade in the region, leading to a dangerous environment for residents and visitors.
Cancun, a popular tourist destination known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife, has recently been plagued by violence. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has issued warnings to tourists about the dangers of visiting Cancun, following a string of cartel-related shootings, robberies, and attacks on tourists in the city.
Although Cancun’s homicide rate of 64 per 100,000 people is relatively lower compared to other dangerous cities in Mexico, it is still notorious for its high levels of violence. Travelers should exercise caution and stay informed about the current security situation before visiting Cancun.
Culiacan, the capital city of the state of Sinaloa, was once seen as a mid to low-level dangerous city. However, it has now become the site of a deadly battle following the arrest of cartel leader El Chapo’s son, Ovidio Guzman. The city has a homicide rate of 61 per 100,000 people and is considered the central city in Sinaloa.
The Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful criminal organizations in Mexico, has a firm grip on Culiacan and its residents. This makes the city incredibly dangerous for tourists, who may unknowingly find themselves in the crossfire of cartel violence.
Uruapan, a mountainside city located in the state of Michoacan, has experienced a steady increase in violence in recent years. Once considered a quiet town, Uruapan is now home to battling cartels that consistently change hands and names.
Killings occur in the most indiscreet areas of Uruapan, such as arcades and bars. The current homicide rate in the city stands at 55 per 100,000 residents, reflecting the dangerous environment that both locals and tourists must navigate.
Ciudad Obregon is the second-largest city in the state of Sonora and has gained notoriety as the fourth most dangerous city in the world in 2022. The rise in violence is not limited to Ciudad Obregon alone but also extends to the surrounding area of Cajame, the southernmost region of Sonora.
With a current homicide rate of 52 per 100,000 residents, Ciudad Obregon is a city characterized by high levels of criminality and insecurity. The reasons behind this steep increase in crime are complex and multifaceted, requiring sustained efforts to address the underlying issues.
Coatzacoalcos, located in the state of Veracruz, was once a vibrant tourist spot. However, it has now become a site of violence and criminal activity. The city has a homicide rate of 48 per 100,000 residents, contributing to its reputation as one of the top ten most dangerous cities in Mexico.
Murder, robbery, and violent crime are prevalent issues in Coatzacoalcos, creating an unsafe environment for both residents and visitors. Recent incidents, such as the discovery of nine bodies left on the street, highlight the severity of the security situation in the city.
Celaya, located in the state of Guanajuato, has gained notoriety as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. With a homicide rate of 109.38 killings per 100,000 residents, Celaya is plagued by high levels of violence and criminal activity.
Drug sales, thefts, and human trafficking are among the prevalent issues in Celaya, contributing to its dangerous environment. The alarming number of brutal murders, with over 1,000 people brutally murdered each year, underscores the severity of the security situation in the city.
Ensenada, a city on the Baja California Peninsula, has experienced an increase in violence in recent months. However, this unrest has not significantly affected tourism and locals in the city center, which remains relatively safe.
While there are some risks in the ungated neighborhoods further out, day trips or travel through the Vine Valley are not significantly affected by the shift in the security situation. Travelers should exercise caution and stay informed about the latest developments when venturing outside the city center.
Tepic, the main urban center of the agricultural region in Nayarit, is not a tourist town but welcomes visitors nonetheless. The city is known for its thriving agricultural industry, with crops like sugar cane, tobacco, and citrus fruits being among the most important.
However, Tepic has gained attention due to its high murder rate. It had a murder rate of 45 per 100,000 population in the previous year, ranking 36th among world cities by homicide rate. The number of homicides in 2018 reached 230, more than twice the homicide rate of Chicago in the same year.
The US State Department advises travelers to avoid Tepic and the nearby town of San Blas. It is crucial for visitors to consult the US State Department website for up-to-date advice on travel safety in Nayarit.