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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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Mexico 2019 Crime & Safety Report: Ciudad Juarez

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Mexico at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased caution due to crime. Reconsider travel to the State of Chihuahua due to crime.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The Consulate General cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

Review OSAC’s Mexico-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

The Department of State divides its roles and responsibilities in Mexico among 10 Consular Districts. The U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez covers the entire state of Chihuahua.

Crime Threats

There is serious risk from crime in Ciudad Juarez. While there is no indication criminals specifically target U.S. citizens, violence and crime rates remain at critical levels in this area of Mexico. U.S. citizens traveling to Ciudad Juarez and the city of Chihuahua must guard against robbery, carjacking, theft, and burglary. A significant number of homicides in both cities are targeted cartel/gang-related actions where the perpetrators generally avoid injuring innocent bystanders.

Carjacking remains a problem in both cities. Most carjackings occur in traffic, but they can occur during the day and at night in all areas of town. Living or working in a location with access-control measures decreases the chances of being carjacked.

Reports of extortion remained low in 2018. The Chihuahua state government and Ciudad Juarez city government have taken steps to reduce extortion with mixed results. Large businesses (including manufacturing plants) are not immune to extortion, although it is less common. A frequent method of extortion involves a telephone call in which the perpetrators threaten harm to the person/business if they do not pay for protection. These phone calls are often random and can originate from outside of the state, sometimes from inside Mexican prisons.

If you must use an ATM, do so only during the business day and only at large, protected facilities (preferably inside commercial establishments, rather than at glass-enclosed, highly visible ATMs on streets). Criminals can accost pedestrians and force them to withdraw money from their accounts using their ATM cards. For more information, review OSAC’s Report, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.

Other Areas of Concern

Follow the guidance in the Mexico Travel Advisory, which provides specific information regarding travel restrictions for U.S. government employees in certain cities, neighborhoods, and routes. Recent changes to the Embassy’s Mexico Travel Policy now permit U.S. government personnel and their family members to travel to the city of Chihuahua, Ojinaga, Nuevo Casas Grandes, and its surrounding areas, via specific routes.

Crime and violence remain serious problems throughout the state of Chihuahua, particularly in the south and in the Sierra Mountains, including Copper Canyon.

Transportation Safety Situation

For more information, review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.

Roads in the State of Chihuahua vary from modern toll roads to dirt tracks. Use only major routes and drive only during daylight hours. The main highway from Ciudad Juarez to the city of Chihuahua (Highway 45) benefits from significant traffic and police presence.

Outside of major thoroughfares, road conditions in Ciudad Juarez are generally poor. Many roads do not have clearly marked lanes. Potholes and trenches can damage your vehicle and cause drivers to swerve into your lane or brake unexpectedly. Manhole covers may be absent after heavy rains, and the resulting holes are difficult to spot. During rainfall, the roads can flood quickly due to lack of adequate drainage.

Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua each have sufficient first responder and medical infrastructure to handle response to a vehicle accident. In isolated areas, response capability can be severely limited. Even on a major highway, assistance can be more than an hour away. For more information on self-driving, review OSAC’s Report Driving Overseas: Best Practices.

Public Transportation Conditions

Avoid using public buses. Use only taxis that are radio-dispatched or from a cab stand (sitio); do not hail a taxi on the street. Restaurant and hotel staff can help you summon a registered taxi.

Terrorism Threat

There is minimal risk from terrorism in Ciudad Juarez.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Civil Unrest

There is minimal risk from civil unrest in Ciudad Juarez. Large-scale, public demonstrations or strikes are infrequent in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Flooding is a concern, as rainfall tends to overwhelm drainage capacity. High-clearance vehicles are helpful in these situations. Heavy precipitation can close roads and cause significant delays.

Critical Infrastructure

The ability of local authorities to contain a major HAZMAT situation is limited. Emergency personnel lack equipment to contain a major incident. Likewise, the response time of first responders is slower than what would be expected in the U.S. If a major incident were to occur outside of a population center, response could take hours.

Economic Concerns

Due to the large number of manufacturing facilities, espionage and intellectual property thefts can occur; there is no reporting to indicate this is a serious problem.

Drug-related Crimes

The majority of homicides in Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua are drug-related. As a major drug-trafficking corridor, the State of Chihuahua has been contested territory for major drug-trafficking organizations for years. With greater availability of drugs in Ciudad Juarez, local drug use has increased.

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnappings are a constant threat throughout the state of Chihuahua. However, those related to drug trafficking may appear separately in statistics; due to fear of retribution, kidnapping reports remain low. Other types of kidnappings, such as virtual or express, occur with regularity. Report kidnapping-related incidents to the police and the U.S. Consulate. For more information, review OSAC’s Report, Kidnapping: The Basics.

Police Response

Levels of professionalism vary greatly among police agencies. In major metropolitan areas, foreigners can expect support from police.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Cooperate with police if stopped or questioned. If police detain or harass you, contact the American Citizen Services Unit during business hours at +52 656-227-3411; outside of business hours, call +52 656-227-3000.

U.S. citizens in custody and without access to a phone should request to speak to the Consulate, as is required to be permitted by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

Crime Victim Assistance

Those requiring immediate assistance from police should dial 911. U.S. citizen victims of crime may contact the American Citizen Services Unit during business hours at +52 656-227-3411; outside of business hours, call +52 656-227-3000.

Police/Security Agencies

  • Federal Police: Primarily functions as highway patrol and airport policing. Special investigative units exist to investigate federal crimes.
  • Policia Estatal Unica: State patrol with investigative responsibilities.
  • Chihuahua State Police: Responsible for the investigation of all state crimes, including specialized groups for anti-kidnapping.
  • Municipal Police: Mainly patrol and crime prevention without investigative authority. They are the primary 911 responders in a metropolitan area.
  • Transito Police: Traffic enforcement and route control.

Medical Emergencies

For emergency medical assistance, dial 911. The Mexican Red Cross provides ambulance services in emergencies.

Contact Information for Hospitals/Clinics

For medical assistance, refer to the Consulate’s Medical Assistance page for what to expect when hospitalized in Mexico.

Insurance Recommendation

Foreigners residing or working in Ciudad Juarez on a permanent basis should obtain coverage with a private ambulance company for faster service.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Mexico.

OSAC Country Council Information

The Ciudad Juarez Country Council meets twice a year. Interested private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Western Hemisphere team with any questions.

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

Consulate Address and Hours of Operation

Consulate General Ciudad Juarez, Paseo De La Victoria 3650, Ciudad Juarez, Chih.

Hours of Operation: 0800-1700 Monday-Friday

Consulate Contact Numbers

Consulate Switchboard: +52 656-227-3000

Website: https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/ciudad-juarez/

Nearby Posts: Embassy Mexico City, Consulate Guadalajara, Consulate Hermosillo, Consulate Matamoros, Consulate Merida, Consulate Monterrey, Consulate Nogales, Consulate Nuevo Laredo,  Consulate Tijuana

Consulate Guidance

All U.S. citizen travelers should register with the nearest U.S. Consulate through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Additional Resources

Mexico Country Information Sheet

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