Mexico City, Mexico

Most Dangerous Cities in Mexico 2024 – Top 10 Places You Should Avoid

Mexico is famous for its vibrant culture, mouth-watering food, and stunning landscapes. But, let’s be real, there are also some spots with pretty high crime rates.

If you’re planning a trip there in 2024, it’s really important to know which cities are the most dangerous so you can stay safe.

Take Tijuana, for instance. It’s got a sky-high homicide rate, making it quite risky despite all the border activity and tourists crossing back and forth.

Then you’ve got places like Celaya and Irapuato, where cartel activity has driven crime through the roof, turning them into some of the most dangerous spots to visit.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Cities

Rank City Homicide Rate per 100,000 Residents U.S. State Department Warning Level
10 Coatzacoalcos 48 Level 3: Reconsider Travel To
9 Ciudad Obregón 52 Level 3: Reconsider Travel To
8 Uruapan 55 Level 4: Do Not Travel To
7 Culiacán 61 Level 4: Do Not Travel To
6 Cancún 64 Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution
5 Irapuato 81 Level 3: Reconsider Travel To
4 Ciudad Juárez 86 Level 3: Reconsider Travel To
3 Ciudad Victoria 86 Level 4: Do Not Travel To
2 Acapulco 111 Level 4: Do Not Travel To
1 Tijuana 138 Level 4: Do Not Travel To

Information is provided from the World Population Review.

10. Coatzacoalcos

Coatzacoalcos Is One of The Deadliest Cities in Mexico

Coatzacoalcos is one of the deadliest cities in Mexico, with a staggering homicide rate of 48 per 100,000 people. Nestled in the state of Veracruz, this port city has been hit hard by violent crime, largely fueled by drug cartels and organized crime groups.

In 2023, Coatzacoalcos saw more than 300 killings according to Concho Valley. This shocking number highlights the city’s serious security issues.

The bloodshed mainly stems from turf wars between competing cartels, Jalisco New Generation Cartel, and local criminal gangs. These groups often clash violently, vying for control over drug trafficking routes, extortion operations, and other illicit activities.

Certain neighborhoods, like Ciudad Olmeca and Teresa Morales, are particularly hard hit by high crime rates. Residents in these areas frequently endure violent assaults, armed robberies, and extortion, creating a climate of fear and instability. The local economy takes a hit too, with many businesses either shutting down or operating under the constant threat of cartel-related violence.

  • Homicide Rate: 48 per 100,000 people.
  • Main Culprits: Drug cartels and organized crime.
  • Cartels: Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • Ciudad Olmeca
  • Teresa Morales

Common Crimes

  • Violent assaults
  • Armed robberies
  • Extortion

9. Ciudad Obredón

Sky-High Crime Rate in Ciudad Obredón

Let’s talk about Ciudad Obregón. This city in Sonora, Mexico, has gained a notorious reputation due to its sky-high homicide rate—52 per 100,000 people. It’s one of the most dangerous places in Mexico, with violent crime rates that have been soaring.

The primary culprits? Organized crime and drug cartels.

In 2023 alone, Ciudad Obregón witnessed over 350 homicides. The root of this violence? Fierce battles between big players like the Sinaloa Cartel and smaller local gangs.

These groups are constantly at each other’s throats over drug trafficking routes and control of local criminal operations. This ongoing turf war often spills out onto the streets, leading to public shootouts, kidnappings, and assassinations, spreading fear throughout the community.

In 2021 this city was the second most violent and dangerous in the World according to KJZZ!

Certain neighborhoods, such as Colonia Benito Juárez and Colonia Libertad, bear the brunt of this violence. These areas are hotspots for crime, with armed robberies and extortion being all too common.

The constant threat disrupts daily life, making people wary of even stepping out. Businesses struggle to stay afloat, and many people avoid public spaces altogether, which only worsens the local economy.

  • Homicide Rate: 52 per 100,000 people
  • Main Culprits: Drug cartels and organized crime
  • Cartels: Sinaloa Cartel

Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • Colonia Benito Juárez
  • Colonia Libertad

Common Crimes

  • Violent assaults
  • Armed robberies
  • Extortion

In response, local authorities have intensified their efforts to combat the violence by increasing police and military presence. Ongoing operations aim to dismantle criminal networks and apprehend cartel leaders. However, these measures often result in only temporary reductions in violence before it escalates again.

Life in Ciudad Obregón is challenging, but the battle against crime continues, with hopes that peace and stability will eventually return to this troubled city.

8. Uruapan

Crime Rates in Uruapan

In 2023, Uruapan witnessed more than 200 homicides, illustrating the high degree of violence that disrupts everyday life. The primary drivers of this violence are conflicts between competing cartels, such as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel and local groups like Los Viagras.

These factions are in constant battle over control of lucrative drug routes and the profitable avocado sector, which has attracted criminal attention due to its high profitability.

In February last year, nine people were shot dead in an amusement arcade frequented by the Los Viagra gang according to 9newscom.au.

Certain neighborhoods, like Vicente Guerrero and La Magdalena, are especially hard hit by high crime rates. Residents in these areas live in a climate of fear and instability, frequently facing violent assaults, armed robberies, and extortion. The impact on the local economy is severe, particularly affecting small businesses and farmers, and lowering the overall quality of life.

  • Homicide Rate: 55 per 100,000 inhabitants
  • Main Culprits: Organized crime groups and drug cartels
  • Cartels: Jalisco New Generation Cartel, Los Viagras

Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • Vicente Guerrero
  • La Magdalena

Common Crimes

  • Violent assaults
  • Armed robberies
  • Extortion

7. Culiacán

In 2023, Culiacán saw over 600 homicides, a stark testament to the extreme violence that permeates the city. The ongoing struggles for control over drug trafficking routes and local criminal markets often result in shotgun battles, kidnappings, and murders. Rival organizations aiming to undermine the Sinaloa Cartel’s dominance also contribute significantly to this violence.

Certain areas of Culiacán are particularly affected by this high level of crime. Neighborhoods frequently endure violent assaults, armed robberies, and extortion, creating an environment of fear and instability. The local economy suffers as businesses face constant threats and people are wary of public spaces, disrupting daily life.

Researchers talked to various search brigades in major cities like Culiacán, Los Mochis, and Mazatlán, along with activists, lawyers, and government officials. They all strongly believe that the rise in forced disappearances in Sinaloa in recent years is primarily due to the local consumption and sales of synthetic drugs according to InsightCrime.

  • Homicide Rate: 61 per 100,000 people
  • Main Culprits: Sinaloa Cartel and rival drug trafficking groups

Common Crimes

  • Shotgun battles
  • Kidnappings
  • Murders
  • Armed robberies
  • Extortion

Impact on Community

  • Daily life disruption
  • Economic decline
  • Public fear and instability

In response to the violence, local authorities have intensified military and police operations. These efforts aim to curb the influence of the cartels and restore some semblance of order. However, the pervasive presence of the Sinaloa Cartel and other criminal groups means that these measures often provide only temporary relief.

6. Cancún

Dangerous Neighborhoods in Cancún

Cancún, globally famous for its stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife, is grappling with a rising homicide rate of 64 per 100,000 inhabitants. This popular tourist spot on the Yucatán Peninsula has seen a surge in violence, largely due to organized crime and drug cartel activities.

In 2023, Cancún reported over 400 homicides, a significant increase from previous years. The primary drivers of this violence are drug gangs, such as the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, vying for control over drug trafficking routes and local drug markets. This conflict has even spilled into tourist-heavy areas, leading to a rise in violent incidents like kidnappings, killings, and shootouts.

Certain neighborhoods, like downtown Cancún and Bonfil, are particularly affected by the high crime rates. Residents in these areas often face threats of robbery, extortion, and other violent crimes, fostering a general sense of fear and insecurity. Although Cancún’s tourism sector remains robust, the rising crime rates are beginning to impact tourists’ perceptions of safety.

Out of the 11 crimes tracked by the Quintana Roo Stoplight Report for Benito Juárez, which includes Cancun, a worrying seven indicators were marked red. These red flags highlight serious issues with homicides, extortion, drug dealing, vehicle theft, home burglary, business theft, and family violence according to the Cancun sun.

  • Homicide Rate: 64 per 100,000 inhabitants
  • Main Culprits: Organized crime and drug cartels
  • Cartels: Jalisco New Generation Cartel

Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • Downtown Cancún
  • Bonfil

Common Crimes

  • Kidnappings
  • Killings
  • Shootouts
  • Robbery
  • Extortion

5. Irapuato

Irapuato in Mexico

Irapuato, located in the state of Guanajuato, stands out as one of Mexico’s deadliest cities with a homicide rate of 81 per 100,000 residents. This city has become a hotspot for violence, largely driven by conflicts between competing drug cartels.

In 2023, over 450 homicides were reported in Irapuato, marking a sharp increase from the previous year. The escalating violence is primarily due to battles between the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. These groups clash over control of local criminal enterprises and drug trafficking routes, leading to frequent homicides and shootouts that disrupt daily life.

Certain neighborhoods, such as San Roque and Las Américas, are especially hard hit by the high rates of violence. Residents in these areas live under the constant threat of robbery, extortion, and other violent crimes, creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity. The ongoing violence has also taken a toll on the local economy, with many businesses struggling to operate.

  • Homicide Rate: 81 per 100,000 residents
  • Main Culprits: Competing drug cartels
  • Cartels: Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel, Jalisco New Generation Cartel

Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • San Roque
  • Las Américas

Common Crimes

  • Homicides
  • Shootouts
  • Robberies
  • Extortion

4. Ciudad Juárez

With 86 homicides per 100,000 residents, Ciudad Juárez remains one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. Located directly across the border from El Paso, Texas, Ciudad Juárez is notorious for its high crime rates, primarily driven by organized crime and drug cartel battles.

In 2023, the city experienced over 1,200 homicides, underscoring its severe security threats. The continuous turf wars between the Juárez and Sinaloa cartels, competing for control over crucial drug trafficking routes into the United States, are largely responsible for the bloodshed. This deadly rivalry makes the city unsafe, with frequent shootouts, kidnappings, and killings.

Certain neighborhoods, like Anapra and Villas de Salvárcar, along with the downtown area, are particularly impacted by high crime rates. Residents in these areas often face robberies, extortion, and other violent crimes, contributing to a general sense of unease and anxiety. The maquiladora sector, vital to the local economy, suffers as businesses face extortion and workers fear for their safety.

  • Homicide Rate: 86 per 100,000 residents
  • Main Culprits: Juárez and Sinaloa cartels

Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • Anapra
  • Villas de Salvárcar
  • Downtown area

Common Crimes

  • Shootouts
  • Kidnappings
  • Killings
  • Robberies
  • Extortion

Some children do not make it to school at all. Between 2010 and 2020, the population of Juárez grew from about 1.3 million to 1.5 million. But the number of students who finished primary school during that time dropped more than 50%, from 174,366 in 2010 to just 77,832 in 2020, according to a report by Ciudad Juárez Strategic Plan, a non-government organization working to improve living conditions in the city.

3. Torreón

Torreón in The Mexican State of Coahuila

As the capital of Tamaulipas in the northeast, Ciudad Victoria has been plagued by violence from organized crime and drug gangs.

In 2023, approximately 600 homicides were recorded in Ciudad Victoria, highlighting its severe crime problem. The ongoing conflict between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, two powerful criminal groups vying for control of drug trafficking routes, significantly contributes to the violence. Frequent shootouts, kidnappings, and assassinations resulting from this rivalry instill fear among the population.

Neighborhoods like Tamatán and Libertad are particularly affected by high crime levels. Residents in these areas often experience extortion, theft, and other criminal activities, making daily life perilous. Issues with corruption and insufficient law enforcement resources exacerbate the city’s public safety challenges.

  • Homicide Rate: 86 per 100,000 residents
  • Main Culprits: Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas

Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • Tamatán
  • Libertad

Common Crimes

  • Shootouts
  • Kidnappings
  • Assassinations
  • Extortion
  • Theft

According to Reuters, Torreón, once a symbol of peace and development in Mexico’s troubled north, now has the thirdd-highest annual murder rate after Acapulco and Tijuana.

The metropolitan area known as La Laguna—which includes Torreón and Matamoros in Coahuila, as well as Gómez Palacio and Lerdo in Durango—experienced 830 murders in the first nine months of 2012, according to newspaper reports.

By October 10 of that year, Torreón alone had recorded 606 murders, making it the most affected city in La Laguna.

2. Acapulco

Acapulco, once the shining jewel of Mexico’s Pacific coast, is now grappling with severe violence, as evidenced by its homicide rate of 111 per 100,000 residents. This statistic places Acapulco among the riskiest cities in Mexico. The city’s turbulent present is a stark contrast to its past as a premier tourist destination, now overshadowed by crime.

Acapulco has become a battleground for drug cartels, with frequent clashes over control of drug trafficking routes. In 2023, the city reported over 900 homicides, highlighting the pervasive violence. This surge in crime has profoundly affected residents, leaving them feeling insecure and fearful.

High crime rates particularly afflict neighborhoods such as Colonia Jardín and Renacimiento. Gang violence, extortion, and kidnappings are rampant, forcing many businesses to close and residents to live in constant fear. The local economy, once buoyed by tourism, suffers greatly as travelers avoid the area due to safety concerns.

  • Homicide Rate: 111 per 100,000 residents
  • Main Culprits: Rival drug cartels

Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • Colonia Jardín
  • Renacimiento

Common Crimes

  • Gang violence
  • Extortion
  • Kidnappings
  • Robberies
  • Shootouts

1. Tijuana

Tijuana Is the Deadliest Cities in Mexico

Tijuana is the deadliest cities in Mexico, with a shocking homicide rate of 138 per 100,000 residents it holds number one spot on our list. Situated on the border between Mexico and the United States, Tijuana has become a hotbed of drug cartel conflict, primarily over lucrative human trafficking routes. The city’s strategic location has made it a battleground for turf wars between the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels.

In 2023, Tijuana saw over 2,000 homicides, a significant increase from previous years. This violence impacts everyday life for both locals and visitors. The city’s vibrant cultural scene and bustling nightlife stand in stark contrast to the high crime rates. Despite a strong police presence and ongoing government efforts to curb violence, crime remains a major issue in Tijuana.

Factors such as corruption and economic inequality contribute to the city’s challenges. Safety is a top concern for residents in neighborhoods like Zona Norte and Colonia Libertad, where crime rates are particularly high. The impact on tourism is significant, with many potential visitors deterred by the city’s dangerous reputation.

  • Homicide Rate: 138 per 100,000 residents
  • Main Culprits: Sinaloa Cartel and Jalisco New Generation Cartel

Dangerous Neighborhoods

  • Zona Norte
  • Colonia Libertad

Common Crimes

  • Homicides
  • Kidnappings
  • Shootouts
  • Robberies
  • Extortion

During a recent news conference, Baja California’s attorney general’s office denied claims that Tijuana is on track to break all-time crime records. However, a recent report from the city’s Citizens Security Council indicates that crime in Tijuana has increased by 20% compared to last year.

The report, based on data from Mexico’s Office of Statistics, also highlights that crime has risen by 31% since 2021 according to fox5sandiego.com.

  • Home robbery up 26%
  • Business robbery up 65%
  • Street assaults/muggings up 47%
  • Business extortion up 46%

Methodology

The Most Dangerous Cities in Mexico

To identify the most dangerous cities in Mexico for 2024, specific data sources were utilized along with well-defined criteria for ranking. Similarly, the 17 most dangerous cities in America were analyzed using comparable methods. The methodology ensures accuracy and relevance.

Data Sources

The cities were analyzed using information from various reputable sources. Data was gathered from:

  • Crime Statistics: This includes official government crime reports and data from agencies like INEGI.
  • News Reports: Events documented by reputable news organizations provide insights into recent violent incidents.
  • Research Studies: Studies from institutions focusing on crime and safety were considered.
  • Population review platforms also contributed valuable information on crime rates and city safety.

This multi-source approach helps ensure a comprehensive understanding of each city’s safety environment.

Criteria for Ranking

The ranking of the most dangerous cities was guided by several key criteria. The homicide rate per 100,000 residents played a significant role.

Other factors included:

  • General Crime Rates: Rates of violent and property crimes such as robbery, carjacking, and assault.
  • Recent Incidents: Recent high-profile crime incidents, like those in Coatzacoalcos, were also weighed heavily.
  • Drug-Related Violence: The presence and activity levels of drug cartels, as seen in Celaya, are critical factors.

These criteria ensure the rankings reflect a realistic assessment of danger in each city.

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