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Mexico 2012 OSAC Crime and Safety Report: Merida

Western Hemisphere > Mexico > Cancun; Western Hemisphere > Mexico > Cozumel; Western Hemisphere > Mexico > Merida; Western Hemisphere > Mexico > Mexico City

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime Threats

The Yucatan Peninsula has not suffered the same level of violence seen in other parts of Mexico. However, the Yucatan Peninsula does remain a part of the nationwide narco-conflict. Incidents of kidnapping, extortion, and other narco-related crimes do occur in the region. There is no evidence to indicate that criminals specifically target American citizens or American interest. Criminals select victims based on appearance, vulnerability, and inattentiveness.

The Cancun and Playa del Carmen areas have experienced a rise in cartel criminal activity. The majority of this activity takes place outside major tourist and resort areas and typically involves individuals associated with criminal groups. A number of recent incidents have occurred in the downtown area of Cancun during late night hours. Visitors to the Yucatan Peninsula should remain aware of their surroundings as crimes can happen in any place at any time.

Sexual assaults of tourists have been reported in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and other resort areas. Many of these have occurred at night or in the early morning. Attacks have occurred on deserted beaches and in hotel rooms. Acquaintance rape is a serious problem. In other cases, hotel workers, taxi drivers, and security personnel have been implicated.

See the information at travel.state.gov regarding spring break in Mexico if you are considering visiting Mexican resort areas during February through March when thousands of U.S. college students traditionally arrive. Additional information designed specifically for traveling students is available at studentsabroad.state.gov.

Over three million American citizens travel to Cancun and other Mexican beach resorts each year, including as many as 120,000 during the spring break season, which normally begins in mid-February and runs about two months. Excessive alcohol consumption, especially by American citizens under the legal U.S. drinking age, is a significant problem. The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, but it is not uniformly enforced. Alcohol is implicated in the majority of arrests, violent crimes, accidents, and deaths suffered by American citizen.

Importing firearms into Mexico without proper permissions is illegal. Importing a firearm will lead to arrest and detention, as well as substantial attorney’s fees. 

Standards of security, safety, and supervision in Mexico may not reach those expected in the United States. This has contributed to deaths of U.S. citizens in automobile accidents, after falls from balconies or into open ditches, by drowning in the ocean, hotel pools, water sports mishaps, among others.

In recent years, moped rentals have become widespread in Cancun and Cozumel, and the number of serious moped accidents has risen accordingly. Most operators carry no insurance and do not conduct safety checks. U.S. Embassy Mexico City recommends avoiding operators who do not provide a helmet with the rental. Some operators have demanded fees many times in excess of damages caused to the vehicles, even if renters have purchased insurance in advance. Vacationers at other beach resorts have encountered similar problems after accidents involving rented jet skis. There have been cases of mobs gathering to prevent tourists from departing the scene of an accident and to intimidate them into paying exorbitant damage claims.

Visitors should be aware of their surroundings at all times, even when in areas generally considered safe. Women traveling alone are especially vulnerable and should exercise caution, particularly at night. Victims, who are almost always unaccompanied, have been assaulted and/or robbed of personal property. American citizens should be very cautious in general when using ATMs in Mexico. If an ATM must be used, it should be accessed only during the business day at large protected facilities (preferably inside commercial establishments, rather than at glass-enclosed, highly visible ATMs on streets). American and Mexican citizens are sometimes accosted on the street and forced to withdraw money from their accounts using their ATM cards.

Armed street crime is a serious problem in all of the major cities in Mexico. Some bars and nightclubs, especially in resort cities such as Cancun and Playa del Carmen, can be havens for criminals. Some establishments may contaminate or drug drinks to gain control over the patron.

To avoid being a victim, use the buddy system. Do not venture out on your own or leave traveling companions alone. Most crimes, including sexual assaults, occur when the victim is separated from a group or is out on their own. Be cognizant of your consumption of alcohol. Most vehicular accidents and incidents of crime affecting U.S. citizens involve the excess consumption of alcohol.

Road Safety

Road conditions in the Yucatan Peninsula are different than those encountered in the United States. Extra care should be exercised when passing a vehicle or being passed. Non-toll roads between major cities can be narrow and vary in conditions. Toll roads are generally wider and better maintained. Drivers should beware of unmarked speed bumps in populated areas. Driving at night outside of major cities is not advisable due to the lack of adequate street lighting.

Criminal assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico. Travelers should exercise extreme caution at all times, avoid traveling at night, and may wish to use toll ("cuota") roads rather than the less secure free ("libre") roads whenever possible.

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death of U.S. citizens in Mexico. Motorists should exercise special caution on the heavily traveled expressway south of Cancun, particularly between Playa del Carmen and Tulum, where the road reduces from four divided lanes to two-way traffic on a narrow and poorly maintained road.

U.S. citizens are advised to cooperate with official checkpoints when traveling on Mexican highways.

Prior to road travel, ensure your vehicle is in good working condition and that fluids are at the correct level. When traveling long distances, it is best to travel in tandem with another vehicle. Ensure that there is enough fuel to reach larger cities or towns, as some smaller communities may not have service stations.

The following items are recommended for road trips:

Cellular phone and charger 
Spare tire 
Portable gas can with funnel 
Potable water 
Non-perishable food items 
First-aid kit 
Jumper cables 
Flares / reflectors 
Tool kit 
Spare key 

Political Violence 

Historical Perspective 

Americans and American interests have not been the target of major demonstrations. The Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners, and such actions may result in detention and/or deportation. Travelers should avoid political demonstrations and other activities that might be deemed political by Mexican authorities. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. American citizens are urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations and to exercise caution if in the vicinity of any protests.

International Terrorism or Transnational Terrorism

There is no evidence that international terrorist groups are operating in the Yucatan Peninsula. However, the Yucatan is widely reported to be a trafficking route for Caribbean and other illegal immigrants, and these same trafficking routes could be exploited by international terrorist groups.

Post-Specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards 

From June to November, the Yucatan Peninsula may experience strong winds and rains as a result of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico or along the Pacific Coast. The state of Quintana Roo tends to suffer the greatest effects from Atlantic hurricanes; however, storms have been known to cause flooding and disruption of utility services throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.

Travelers are advised to keep abreast of developing weather conditions during the hurricane season and to avoid the paths of storms when possible. It is prudent to leave a detailed itinerary, including local contact information and expected date of return, with a friend or family member. Travelers to the Yucatan Peninsula are advised to register with the Consulate.

Kidnappings

A type of common extortion scheme affecting the entire Peninsula is virtual kidnapping. This is a common telephone scam in which a distraught caller serves as a ploy to elicit information about a potential victim. The caller then uses this knowledge to demand ransom for the release of the supposed victim. In the event of such a call, stay calm since the vast majority of the calls are hoaxes; do not reveal any personal information; try to speak with the victim to corroborate identity; and contact the local police as well as U.S. Consulate Merida or the nearest Consular Agency.

Drugs and Narco-terrorism

Mexico is well known for its illegal drug trade and the corruption the industry fosters. The Yucatan Peninsula is strategically close to narcotic smuggling routes of Central America and parts of the Caribbean. Most of the violent crimes and kidnappings reported are the result of various drug trafficking groups exacting revenge and/or intimidating competitors.

Police Response

Police corruption and involvement in criminal activity occurs in the Yucatan Peninsula as it does in most parts of Mexico. Low apprehension and conviction rates of criminals contribute to Mexico's high crime rate. Corruption, along with fear of reprisals from criminal elements, leads most to believe that many crimes go unreported.

American citizens are advised to cooperate with police if stopped and questioned. If involved in a traffic accident or victimized by crime, one may be asked to accompany the investigating officer to a local police station to file a report. A complaint must be filed in the area where the crime occurred. Attempting to file a complaint once one has returned to the U.S. can be a difficult and time consuming. American citizen victims of crime in Mexico are encouraged to report the incident to the nearest police headquarters and to the nearest U.S. consular office. 

The Mexican police emergency number is 066. Reported times for the arrival of emergency services varies.

Mexico country code: 52
Merida city code: 99

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment 

If a bribe is solicited, travelers should make a note of any identifying information of the officer, such as badge number, car number, and name. Travelers should not confront officers requesting a bribe, however. This information can be reported to the local authorities or to the nearest consulate or consular agency.

Medical Emergencies

Private hospitals in Mexico may or may not accept U.S. domestic health insurance, and those that do will expect payment prior to any services rendered. American travelers to Mexico should ensure that their medical coverage plans insure them while traveling in Mexico. Those without coverage in Mexico should either purchase temporary coverage or be prepared to pay in cash, up front, for any medical expenditure. Unlike the United States, hospitals in Mexico are not required to treat emergency cases, and patients needing emergency treatment can be denied for lack of payment. For more information, see the Department of State site for medical issues abroad.

International health insurance that provides coverage to the Yucatan Peninsula can be easily obtained from private companies. Private air ambulance services are also available for injuries or illnesses best treated in the U.S.

The Merida RSO Office does not endorse any specific private insurance, air ambulance companies, or hospitals. Additionally, the hospitals listed are the private hospitals in the consular district. The following lists are for informational purposes only.

For international insurance: AEA International: (206) 340-6000

Air Ambulance Service

Air ambulances that service the Yucatan Peninsula:
Air Compassion: (866) 270-9198 or +1 (883) 270-9198
Advanced Air Ambulance: (800) 633-3590 or (305) 232-7700
AirMD Air Ambulance Services: (800) 282-6878 or (727) 530-7972
Air Ambulance Professionals: (800) 752-4195 or (954) 491-0555
Air Response: (800) 631-6565 or (303) 858-9967
Critical Air Medical: (800) 247-8326 or (619) 571-0482
An additional list of companies that provide international air ambulance services can be found at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis1470.html#companies.

Contact Information for Local Hospitals and Clinics 

In Merida

Av. Itzaes #242 Col. García Ginerés
PH. 942-1800
http://www.clinicademerida.com.mx/DEP.html
Emergencies: 
Adults:  Ext. 1141 & 1142
Children: Ext. 1123
Intensive Care:
Adults: ext. 1122
Children: ext 1235

Hospital Star Medica
Calle 26 #199 by 15 and 17,
Col. Altabrisa
PH. 930-2880
http://www.starmedica.com/default.asp?seccion=150
Emergencies:  Ext. 5

Centro De Especialidades Medicas (CEM)
Calle 60 #329-B by 35 and Av. Colon
Col. Alcalá Martin
PH. 920-4040
http://www.cemsureste.com/cem_index.htm

Centro Medico de las Americas
Calle 54 #365
Col. Centro
PH. 926-2111
http://www.centromedicodelasamericas.com.mx/directorio.php?Offset=0
Emergencies:
Adults: ext. 127 or PH. 927-2199
Children: ext. 512

Centro Medico Pensiones
Calle 7 #215-A
Col. Pensiones
PH. 925-8019
http://www.hospitalcmp.com/index.htm

Hospital Santelena
Calle 14 #81, by 5 and 7
Col. San Antonio Cinta
PH. 943-1333
http://www.hosantme.medicosmerida.com/

In Campeche

Clínica Campeche
Av. Central No. 65, Col. Santa Ana
Tel. (981) 811-0090
Tel. (981) 816-5612 
Campeche, Camp.

Hospital Dr. Manuel Campos 
Av. Blvd. S/N, Entre 14 Y 16
Tel. (981) 816-5573
Campeche, Camp.

In Ciudad Del Carmen

Central Quirúrgica Del Carmen 
Calle 22, No. 188
Tel. (938) 382-3468
Cd. Del Carmen, Camp.

Clínica De Especialidades Médicas Del Carmen
Calle 42, No. 79, Aviacion
Tel. (938) 382-6906
Tel. (938) 382-9387
Tel. (938) 382-1867 
Cd. Del Carmen, Camp.

Clínica Morelos
Calle 57, No. 1
Tel. (938) 382-3942
Cd. Del Carmen, Camp.

Grupo San Miguel 
Calle 50, No. 1, Col. Caleta
Tel. (938) 384-1002
Tel. (938) 384-1003
Cd. Del Carmen, Camp.

Centro Medico Carmen
Calle 58, No. 51, Col. Fatima
Tel. (938) 384-4300
Cd. Del Carmen, Camp

Cruz Roja
Calle 56, S/N, Col. Centro
Tel. (938) 384-0447
Cd. Del Carmen, Camp

In Cozumel

BMM/SSS Clinic & Hyperbaric Dive Medicine
Calle 5 Sur #21-B entre Melgar y 5th Av
Tel: 872 1430 / 31 Tel: 872 2387 Fax: 872 1848
Email: cozumel@sssnetwork
http://www.sssnetwork.com/mexico/cozumel.htm
Julio Torres 987 103 5524

Clinica Isla Med
AR Salas by 85 street and 85-bis street, Col. Flores Magon
Tel: 987 869 6171

Clinica Medica San Miguel 
Also has a hyperbaric chamber
Calle 6 North # 132
Entre 5ª y 10ª Avenida Col. Centro
Cozumel, Quintana Roo Mexico 
C. P. 77600
Telephone:
011-52-(987) 872 0103
011-52-(987) 872 6155
011-52-(987) 872 5850
011-52-(987) 872 3241
info@medicasanmiguel.com
http://www.medicasanmiguel.com.mx/esp/index.shtml

Cozumel Medical Center/Grupo Costamed/CMC
Calle 1ra entre 50 y 50-Bis # 101
From USA 011.52.987.872.9400 ext 1100 (Ask for Guest Relations for English speaking staff)
Vonage Lines: 305.395.7999/305.921.9323
CMC Clinica CostaMed. 
Phone: (987) 872 9400 ext. 1100
Clinica Costamed in Playa del Carmen (52) (984) 803 7777
Cozumel CMC (52) (987) 872 9400 ext 1100
www.costamed.com.mx

In Cancun

American Hospital
Retorno Viento #15
SM 4, M. 22
Phone: (998) 884-6133 / 884-6068
www.hospitalamericano.com

Amerimed Hospital
Av. Bonampak y Nichupte
Junto a Plaza Las Americas
Phone: (998) 881-3400
Fax: (998) 881-3466
www.amerimed-hospitals.com

Galenia Hospital
Av. Tulum con Av Nizuc Lt. 1 Mzna. 1
SM. 12 Frente a Home Depot. Centro
Phone  (998) 891-5200 / 891-5201
www.hospitalgalenia.com

Hospiten Hospital Cancun
Av. Bonampak Lote 7  Mz. 2 SM  10
Phone (998)  881-3700
www.hospiten.es 

General Hospital Cancun 
SM. 65   Andador 5 
Col. Puerto Juarez
Phone (998) 884-2666 

Dentists

Dr. Luis Armando Camacho Jiménez
Av. La Luna Num. 21  SM. 43
Phone (998) 206-1826 / 206-2595

Clinica Quirurgica del Sur
Av. Lopez Portillo  M. 37   Lot.2 y 3
SM. 59  Unidad Morelos
Phone (998) 886-7636 / 886-46-31
www.quirurgicadelsur.com

Clinica Sobrino
Mzana. Q Lote. 13 
S.M. 63
Phone  (998) 884-2516 

Psychiatry

Dr.Gaspar Baquedano
Phone. (998) 941-6426 
baquedano@yahoo.com

Playa del Carmen
Medica del Carmen
25 Av. Y 2 Norte 
Col. Centro, Playa del Carmen, QRoo, Mexico
(984) 873 – 0885
info@medicadelcarmen.com

Grupo Medico Costamed
Edificio Progreso
Carr. Fed. MZ 285 
Ejido Sur, Playa del Carmen, QRoo, Mexico
(984) 803-7777
http://www.centromedicodecozumel.com.mx/default.asp?Hospital=Costamed&Idioma=Eng&Seccion=inicio

Hospiten Riviera Maya
C. Balamcanché
Lote 1, MZA.30, Carr. Federal, Playacar Fase II 
Playa del Carmen, QRoo, Mexico
(984) 803 – 1002
rivieramaya@hospiten.com

Playamed Clinic
Edificio UNID
Carr. Fed. With Calle 28
Col Ejidal, Playa del Carmen, QRoo, Mexico
(984) 879 – 3145 / 47

Sacbe Clinic
Calle 34 bis. / 30 Av y 35 Av
Playa del Carmen, QRoo, Mexico
(984) 803-0055 / (984) 873-1576
clinicasacbe@yahoo.com.mx

Hospital San Carlos
Carretera Federal Mza. 155, Lote 003
Solidaridad, Quintana Roo
(984) 859-3313
hospitalsancarlos@prodigy.net.mx

CDC Guidance 

Persons visiting the Yucatan Peninsula should take normal precautions with regard to drinking water, eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and salads.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad." 

Additional health information can be found at the CDC international traveler's hotline, (888) 232-6384 or (800) 232-4636 or http://www.cdc.gov.

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Vary your times and routes to and from work, school, or activities. 
Maintain a low personal profile; it is best to avoid activities that draw attention. Avoid wearing ostentatious jewelry or clothing that may bring unwanted attention. 
Be alert to surveillance. Criminals, even petty thieves, are known to watch the activities of their victims before they commit a robbery or assault. 
Advise colleagues and family of your daily plans and ensure they know how to reach you. 
Always be aware of surroundings. Report all suspicious activity to the proper authorities. 
In traffic, always leave space in which to maneuver. 
Always leave yourself an exit. Be prepared to take evasive action at any time. 
Avoid choke points in travel. Be wary of diversions. 
Never give out personal information such as family member and household staff names, addresses, and telephone numbers in an open setting. 
Ensure all of family members are briefed on security measures. 
Do not leave valuables in plain view or unattended in your vehicle. Avoid leaving your vehicle on the street. When possible park your vehicle inside residential compounds or parking areas with attendants.
Be cautious of unannounced maintenance, utility, or municipal service personnel asking for entry into your residence. Ask for proper identification and verify the person’s identity before allowing access.
When hiring domestic help, vet candidates to the greatest extent possible. Ensure they are briefed on not volunteering information to unidentified callers and not allowing individuals into your home without proper authorization. Though you may have great trust in your house staff, it is best to maintain good control over keys that lead into your living area.

Further Information

Consulate Information
U.S. Consulate Merida
Calle 60 No. 338-K x 29 y 31
Col. Alcala Martin Merida, Yucatan, Mexico 97050
(011) (52) (999) 942-5700 (dialing from the U.S.)
(01) (999) 942-5700 (dialing from within Mexico)
942-5700 (dialing from within Merida)
Email: meridacons@state.gov

Consular Agency Cancun
Torre Europa, Boulevard Kukulcan, Piso 3, Km 13
Zona Hotelera Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico 77500
(011)(52)(1)(998) 883-0272 (dialing from the U.S.)
(044)(998) 883-0272 (dialing from within Cancun)
(045)(998) 883-0272 (dialing from elsewhere in Mexico)
Email: cancunagency@gmail.com

Consular Agency Cozumel
Villa Mar Mall in the Main Plaza, Locale # 8
Parque Juarez - Av. Juarez y 5th Av. Nte.
Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico 77600
(011)(52)(1)(987) 872-4574 (dialing from the U.S.)
(044)(987) 872-4574 (dialing from within Cozumel)
(045)(987) 872-4574 (dialing from elsewhere in Mexico)
Email: usgov@cozumel.net or usca@cozumel.net

Consular Agency Playa del Carmen
"The Palapa" Calle 1 Sur, Entre 15 Av. Y 20 Av.
Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico 77710
(011)(52)(1)(984) 873-0303 (dialing from the U.S.)
(044)(984) 873-0303 (dialing from within Playa)
(045)(984) 873-0303 (dialing from elsewhere in Mexico)
Email: playausca@hotmail.com

OSAC Country Council

For information on the Yucatan Peninsula Country Council, contact the Regional Security Office in Merida at (011) (52) (999) 942-5719 or OSAC's Country Council and Outreach Coordinator for the Western Hemisphere at 571-345-7747.