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Exclamation Mexico...sorta dangerous now
Old 01-31-2010, 06:30 PM   #1
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Exclamation Mexico...sorta dangerous now

BBC News - Gun attack at Mexico student party leaves 13 dead

If you read that article even briefly, at the end of it it states that people are exposed to "shootings in clubs and restaurants are a daily occurance in some regions" of Mexico. Gosh, as a gringo would I even know where to go or where to avoid? I love the Mexican people, the culture and the food (not necessarily in that order as I think the food is the best)...but guess I'll be putting off that trip for quite awhile now.
I looked at a recent map of Mexico where the cartels are located in USA Today, and appears like Oaxaca is about the safest place to go as no cartels have that territory...but geesh! Talk about ruining a country's tourism....or nothing like a little gunfire to keep 'em away.
Seems like the Kaderlis' and KCowan lucked out so far on their trips to Mexico, but I'd sure hate to walk into the wrong restaurant for lunch...
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Old 01-31-2010, 06:57 PM   #2
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FWIW Oaxaca is a fantastic place to visit, especially if you go for the week of Xmas.

I think it is the northern border towns that are the most dangerous with a few exceptions - the MX federal govt seems to have real trouble curtailing the organized crime in northern MX. Ciudad Juarez is across from El Paso and it's been one of the most dangerous MX border towns for a long time. The only border town I would consider visiting on the TX border is Progresso which is well known for it's very friendly and safe environment for "winter texans". They go out of their way to get the US tourist traffic.

And also, FWIW, visiting a border town doesn't give you a taste of the "real" Mexico - the border area is definitely its own world.

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Old 01-31-2010, 07:27 PM   #3
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Yep - canceled last years family reunion south of Tijuana at one members condo - even though in was in an ex-pat oriented area.

One nephew fresh out of Navy had joined the Border Patrol - probably the wrong time and place to learn his Spanish.

Looks like maybe Reno this year.

heh heh heh - . Like often happens probably broad brushing many areas unfairly - like it or not.
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Old 01-31-2010, 07:57 PM   #4
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Ciudad Juarez and other border cities - stay away!

From what I have heard and read, the great majority of the interior of Mexico is safe (well, no more dangerous than it has been for years).

Just think about all the gang violence, murders, etc here in the US. Drive-by's, gang warfare and the like are common in some larger metro areas, particularly in the bad parts of town. Doesn't mean the US is a dangerous place. I would just avoid the border regions of Mexico, and fly directly into Mexico city, Cancun, Guadalajara, Oaxaca or wherever you are going.
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Old 01-31-2010, 08:05 PM   #5
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Juarez is a cesspool today. I used to live in El Paso about 30 years ago and used to cross the border all the time to catch bull fights, drink cheaply and eat cheaply. Some nice places to bring a date there. No more...

I was visiting Tulum Mexico in the Yucatan several months ago and it was delightful as can be. No killing, no drug runners etc. Probably where all of the drug lords go when they need to take a break from slaughtering folks.
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Old 01-31-2010, 09:11 PM   #6
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Most of what gets said about Mexico and drugs is incomplete. Risk is always stochastic, if it were not few of us older board members would be alive as our most of our prospective fathers would have died in WW2. New Orleans is dangerous yet for all the people who get murdered, there are very many more who do not get murdered. To say " I feel safe in xxx place" is meaningless, as feelings have little to do with it.

If a person thinks actuarily about life and risk, he will conclude that many small risks compound.

The drug business in Mexico, though it is very strong in the North, is by no means confined to the North. Other areas have been prominantly involved in cultivation and marketing at least since the 1930s. I knew a small time mj dealer in LA who with her late husband (killed in a drug shootout) had been opium marketers in Michoacan. According to her even in the 50s there was significant cultivation (poppy and marijuana) and movement of drugs in all the western states of Mexico from Guerrero (Acapulco) north, and including the foothills of the Sierra Madre.

According to the linked article, this continues, but has become more profitable and more violent.

Drug Trafficking in Mexico - Discussion Paper 36

The real problem with Latin American drugs is the USA. As long as we are a market, which will be until the end of time, Latin America will produce for that market, and many people will get killed in Mexico and elsewhere in and around this business.

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Old 01-31-2010, 10:28 PM   #7
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Risk is always stochastic...
True, though I couldn't help thinking that not all places in Mexico are equally dangerous. Perhaps the insiders know where to go to be no more exposed to risks than some places in the US. I do not have this info, or perhaps more accurately do not have enough interest of traveling there in order to learn more. Just trying to say that cognizant travelers may have a reason to feel safe that I don't.

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The real problem with Latin American drugs is the USA. As long as we are a market, which will be until the end of time, Latin America will produce for that market, and many people will get killed in Mexico and elsewhere in and around this business.
Sadly, it is very true. The US drug users are the real problem. We have not heard much about Columbia lately, have we? It seems like the problem is migrating north, closer to our border. Yikes!
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Old 01-31-2010, 10:43 PM   #8
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We have not heard much about Columbia lately, have we? It seems like the problem is migrating north, closer to our border. Yikes!
This is for the most part an artifact of more effective shipment interdiction in the Caribbean. Coca leaves are cultivated heavily in the Andean countries of Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. Colombia is the main processor of coca into cocaine as well. It is Colombian product that is now coming through Mexico. Shut down the air and sea routes, leaves land shipment into the US. After all, US is the destination!

'Cocaine Coast' emerges along Mexico's Pacific side

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Old 01-31-2010, 11:01 PM   #9
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We have not heard much about Columbia lately, have we? It seems like the problem is migrating north, closer to our border. Yikes!
Well, I do know that bird watching groups have returned to Columbia, after staying away for 18 years!!!! It seems the para-military type violence is way down.

But yes, it does seem that Mexico as a drug conduit has risen dramatically during the past decade.

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Old 02-01-2010, 02:25 AM   #10
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Ha pointed out some important points, but it's not the whole picture and it doesn't fully explain the all out war that is going on down in Mexico and spilling over into the U.S.

Compared to Mexico, Colombia is a paragon of honesty and the rule of law. Everything in Mexico is bent, and the government has always been the most bent and corrupt of them all. Colombian drug lords were always at war with their government, but the Mexican drug gangs had the government in their pocket.

Smuggling has always been going on across the Mexico - U.S. border, and moving Colombian Cocaine was just another shipment of illegal stuff. But most of that was just getting it through Mexico and into the United States, usually in a "source city" like Houston. There, the Colombians regained control of the product and distributed it through their organizations in cities like Houston, New York and Miami. It was strictly a continuation of the Mexican tradition of smuggling whatever whenever across the joke of a border.

The original HIDTA concept was an answer to dealing with the Colombian organizations in the U.S., and any focus on the Mexican smuggling groups was kind of incidental. Because of all the heat on the Colombians, and because the Mexicans had gotten smart and started taking payment in Cocaine rather than just cash, the Mexicans had room, time and product to change from being drug smugglers to become drug traffickers. They had access to product, they made a heck of a lot more money from selling rather than smuggling, and they soon developed a vastly superior distribution network across the U.S.

Tons of money flooded into the Mexican drug traffickers' pockets and it was like tossing sticks of dynamite into a bonfire. Everything changed and all the old ways of doing things (that nobody ever got too excited over) were thrown out. Rival gangs started shooting wars to control territory and then the central government tried to step in and found out that it did not control the northern border territories.

To illustrate how bad the problem is, imagine the same thing happening in California. The federal government wants a big Los Angeles drug dealer arrested, but can't get it done because the LAPD, LASO, CHP and California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement all are employed by the drug dealer. The last head of the DEA office in LA was assassinated (by some CHP officers) when he tried to make a move to arrest the guy. The rest of the DEA office fled the state or feigns not knowing the location of the suspect. The editor of the LA Times writes some editorials about how screwed up this all is, and he gets shot to death the next morning on the I-5. The government sends in the 101st Airborne which promptly gets into a huge battle with local police and ex-special forces troops who now work for the drug dealer. That's what Northern Mexico looks like.

And the problem is spreading:
Quote:
An affidavit by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives paints the house as a sort of satellite office for Mexico's Gulf Cartel and its partners known as Los Zetas.

Body armor in the master bathroom, a “machine gun” with a silencer on the floor by a bed, money-counting machines, night-vision equipment, hundreds of plastic bags for packaging drugs in resale quantities and machinery for packing the narcotics were found.

Of the 27 high-powered weapons found in the house, some had rounds chambered and were ready to be fired as if positioned for security, while others were disassembled and appeared ready for smuggling back to Mexico.

Also, there was $500,000 worth of cocaine, nearly $100,000 in cash, and a duffle bag stuffed with documents.

Records contend the drugs were shipped through the house on the way to markets. Bulk cash proceeds were then shipped back to Mexican suppliers, as were the military-style weapons they needed back in Mexico.
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/...n/6844840.html
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Old 02-01-2010, 08:50 AM   #11
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Yes, the corruption is extensive in Mexico. But since the drug traffickers seem to rely more and more on violence and threats of torture and terrorism (leaving severed heads on display) then the old faithful methods of "la mordida" - i.e., bribery - must no longer be effective. If things were as corrupt as one might think, the MX president wouldn't be sending the army in to go after big drug kingpins.

Things are changing. I really wonder what is going to happen and of course I really hope the violence doesn't spill across the border or else I'm going to be living in a war zone.

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Old 02-01-2010, 09:19 AM   #12
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I tried to pull up the USA Today map of the territories that the Mexican drug cartels have, but could not find it; however, there is this one from Wikipedia, which seems to have much smaller drug cartel areas drawn than the one from USA Today. Maybe Wikipedia's is an older map, but this gives you some idea how spread drug gang activity is:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi..._small_war.PNG


It's understandable that drug activity is lucrative and the drug lords fight for territory, but what's downright scary to me is the sheer ruthlessness and nonsensical murders (as in the above article) of innocents. Fellow gang members or drug cartels I can understand, but innocents...what gives with that? That just becomes killing for the sheer love of killing, which makes these people no better than the lowest form of animal. At least the old-time Mafia had some code of honor and didn't murder wives, children or innocents if it could be at all avoided.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:38 AM   #13
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It basically becomes terrorism. Not in the fight for some ideal, but in intimidating the local population and local law enforcement to the extent that they lay low and let the drug lords operate unfettered.

It's likely competition between drug lords is forcing such a ruthless approach, but obviously such an approach cannot last very long as ultimately, faced with the fact that they will likely suffer and/or die anyway, local populations won't put up with it and will support law enforcement rather cast than a blind eye.

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Old 02-01-2010, 09:45 AM   #14
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One can only hope, audreyh1....one can only hope.
Eventually enough family members of one of these drug lords are going to get killed and things might change...maybe. It is SO out-of-hand now that's it's just too frightening for ordinary citizens I should think.
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Old 02-01-2010, 09:59 AM   #15
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One can only hope, audreyh1....one can only hope.
Eventually enough family members of one of these drug lords are going to get killed and things might change...maybe. It is SO out-of-hand now that's it's just too frightening for ordinary citizens I should think.
I don't know. Seems like it is already out of control. Sometimes that is how these horrible things work out - mutual destruction. At some point enough of the perpetrators are either killed off that the infrastructure crumbles, or enough of the drug lords decide that perhaps there is a better way.....

Unfortunately, since this is a neighboring country and the worst is along our border, if it gets bad enough the US military might also have to get involved.

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Old 02-01-2010, 10:53 AM   #16
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Yup, that's what happened with the Mafia families. So much fighting, so many deaths, they called truces.

Read anything lately about the Phoenix area having more kidnappings? I haven't, but I wonder if it's slowed down?
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Old 02-01-2010, 10:55 AM   #17
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We live full-time in the Lake Chapala area of Mexico and follow Mexico crime news closely. I think haha's comments here are the most helpful. Perception of risk ought to be a relative thing, but most in the U.S. are unaware of just how much violence and theft is happening right where they live and thus unable to objectively compare their level of risk to Mexico. Mexico is dangerous, but so is home. As an example, the aforementioned Kaderlis, who are friends of ours, are based here in Chapala but currently traveling by bus the length of Mexico and down into Guatemala and Belize. Are they taking risks? Sure, but if the frame of reference is crime rates in their U.S. home base of the greater Phoenix, AZ metro area Mexico starts to look pretty darn safe by comparison.

There's no question that the influence of the drug cartels and the war on them in Mexico is huge, and by no means limited to the border cities. With revenues from oil exports through the state-owned monopoly Pemex way down (the country's #1 source of income), remittances from Mexicans working in the U.S. in the toilet due to the economy (#2 source of revenue), tourism hurt by said economy, swine flu fears and endless hysteria about the drug wars on U.S. networks Mexico is certainly hurting. That said, personal safety in prime tourist areas such as here, San Miguel de Allende and the beach resorts is quite high - certainly higher than in big cities in the U.S. The drug cartels are targeting people who infringe on their turf and law enforcement - other Mexicans, in other words, not tourists.

Looking at it another way, the drug cartels are simply Mexico's most successful entrepreneurs, making money hand over fist running a high margin business meeting high levels of demand from the U.S. I guess if they were in the oil, tobacco or alcoholic drinks businesses Republicans in congress would be lining up to defend them. Anyway, IMO taxing the hell out of these drugs and legalizing them is the only way to "win" the otherwise unwinnable war, but it looks like that'll happen shortly after the U.S. adopts single payer health insurance and hell freezes over.

Looking at the country as a whole rather than the border cities there's a lot of petty property crime in Mexico but certainly less violent crime against people than in major U.S. cities. This is not to discount the realities of corruption at all levels of society, a cultural reality in Mexico for centuries that has only gotten worse with the economic crisis.

Bottom line is: don't hesitate to visit as a tourist, but use common sense as you would visiting cities in the U.S. Steer clear of the border towns and bad neighborhoods in big cities, leave the flashy jewelry at home, and don't do things you wouldn't do at home just 'cause you're cutting loose in Mexico (amazing how many gringos clear customs in Puerto Vallarta or Cancun and are three margaritas to the wind before they arrive at their hotels) and you'll be fine.
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Old 02-01-2010, 12:49 PM   #18
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Read anything lately about the Phoenix area having more kidnappings? I haven't, but I wonder if it's slowed down?
I don't know. That whole kidnapping thing is really terrifying.

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Old 02-01-2010, 10:08 PM   #19
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Kidnapping epidemic in Phoenix? My home town? You sure got my attention. Why wasn't I or the people I know scared to death about this? So, I searched the Web, and here is an excerpt from the first link I found.

PHOENIX In broad daylight one January afternoon, on a street of ranch-style houses with kidney-shaped swimming pools, Juan Francisco Perez-Torres was kidnapped in front of his wife, daughter and three neighbors.

Two men with a gun grabbed the 34-year-old from his van and dragged him 50 yards to a waiting SUV. His wife threw rocks at the car, then gave chase in her own SUV. Neighbors in northwest Phoenix called police. Yet when police found her later, she at first denied there was a problem.

On the phone later, as detectives listened in, kidnappers said Perez-Torres had stolen someone's marijuana.

But police were used to conflicting story lines by now. It was Phoenix, after all: More ransom kidnappings happen here than in any other town in America, according to local and federal law enforcement authorities. Most every victim and suspect is connected to the drug-smuggling world, usually tracing back to the western Mexican state of Sinaloa, Phoenix police report.
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Old 02-02-2010, 07:54 AM   #20
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It seems to me that the "war on drugs" was lost a long time ago. As a result of U.S. addiction entire countries and parts of our own are owned by drug interests, most notably on our Mexican doorstep, and the U.S. taxpayers are spending $$ on a war they can no longer afford and, that has no winning strategy.

I can't imagine that we would not be more secure (at home and on Mexican holiday) and less impoverished if we legalize the majority of these drugs and control their distribution in a manner similar to alcohol. Provide free treatment centers for those who wish it.

Just my two cents.
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