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Risk Management

Travel Alert for Mexico

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US Department of State Travel Alert

While millions of US citizens safely visit Mexico each year (including thousands who cross the land border every day for study, tourism or business), violence in the country has increased recently. It is imperative that travelers understand the risks of travel to Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and whom to contact if one becomes a crime victim.

No SDSU students have been involved in a violent crime while in Mexico. However, students should be aware of the increased violence in the region due to Mexican drug cartels engaging in an increasingly violent conflict — both among themselves and with Mexican security services — for control of narcotics and human trafficking routes along the US-Mexico border.

Violence Along the US-Mexico Border

A number of areas along the border are experiencing rapid growth in the rates of many types of crime. Robberies, homicides, petty thefts, and carjacking have all increased over the last year across Mexico generally, with notable spikes in Tijuana and northern Baja California.

US citizens are urged to be alert to safety and security concerns when visiting the border region. Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police cars. While most crime victims are Mexican citizens, the uncertain security situation poses serious risks for US citizens as well. US citizen victims of crime in Mexico are urged to contact the consular section of the nearest US Consulate or Embassy for advice and assistance.

See Mexico Travel Information, a US Department of State, Web site.

Stay Safe

Know Before You Go


Tijuana has a large number of pharmacies. To buy any controlled medication, a prescription from a Mexican federally registered physician is required. US prescriptions are not valid in Mexico. Possession of controlled medications without a Mexican doctor’s prescription is a serious crime and can lead to arrest and imprisonment. The prescription must have a seal and serial number. Under no other circumstances should an individual purchase prescription medicines.

Demonstrations and Large Public Gatherings

Demonstrations occur frequently throughout Mexico and usually are peaceful. However, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate to violence unexpectedly. Violent demonstrations have resulted in deaths, including that of an American citizen in Oaxaca in 2006. In 2008, a Mexican Independence Day celebration was the target of a violent attack.

During demonstrations or law enforcement operations, US citizens are advised to:

The Mexican constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation. US citizens are therefore advised to avoid participating in demonstrations or other activities that might be deemed political by Mexican authorities. As is always the case in any large gathering, US citizens should remain alert to their surroundings. Do not photograph demonstrations.

See also, Driving in Mexico.