Tuesday, April 29, 2008

New Crime Alert Issued For Baja

I would rather be writing about fish... but crime seems to be a central issue currently in the Baja California Peninsula. Two previous blog entries on crime & safety are:

1. Safety in the Baja & What is the Risk of Travel
2. Men in Black - Who are These Masked Men in Baja?

On April 14th, 2008 the U.S. Department of State issued a new travel alert for the Baja California Peninsula, set to expire in October, 2008. The travel warning describes current happenings along the U.S. - Mexico Border such as:

** violent criminal activity between criminal organizations struggling for control of the narcotics trade

** confrontations between Mexican army and police forces against heavily armed drug cartels using machine guns and fragmentation grenades

** an increase of armed robberies and carjackings, "apparently unconnected to the narcotics-related violence" in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez

The article states, "Dozens of U.S. citizens were kidnapped and/or murdered in Tijuana in 2007". Americans have been the victims of crimes but the majority of victims are Mexican, and the alert states that there is no evidence U.S. citizens are being targeted due to their nationality.

Crime may be on the rise in southern Baja as well, with recent armed robberies occurring in La Paz and the Todos Santos area. Residents are urged to keep doors and gates locked at all times. In the central Baja area, Mulege had an armed hijacking of an airplane at The Serenidad airstrip. The military have been sent to patrol the area.

Caution and common sense seems to be the name of the game for travelers to the Peninsula at present time - heed the advice of the U.S. Department of State and others; never travel at night, avoid the Tijuana-U.S. Border if driving and use the Tecate border instead, do not travel to or camp in remote locations, visit only legitimate businesses and tourist areas (that exclude brothels and cantinas), be extra alert to your surroundings, avoid traveling alone and displaying obvious signs of wealth (expensive jewelry, wads of cash, etc.).

Anyone and everyone who cares about the Peninsula can only hope that the situation eventually gets under better control.

Molly, author of Viva La Baja! Relocation Guide to the Baja California Peninsula


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