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Mexico 2014 Crime and Safety Report: Mexico City

Western Hemisphere > Mexico; Western Hemisphere > Mexico > Acapulco; Western Hemisphere > Mexico > Ixtapa; Western Hemisphere > Mexico > Mexico City

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The State Department divides its roles and responsibilities in Mexico between 10 Consular districts spread across the country (one for the Embassy and each of the nine Consulates). This Crime and Safety Report focuses on the Embassy’s district, which is comprised of the Mexican Federal District that is Mexico City, the southern tip of Tamaulipas State (including the city of Tampico), and the following 13 states; Chiapas, Estado de Mexico, Guanajuato, Guerrero, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Morelos, Oaxaca, Puebla, Querétaro, Tabasco, Tlaxcala, and Veracruz.

For more information regarding the security environment in other areas of Mexico, please reference the OSAC Crime and Safety Reports from the following Consular Districts: Tijuana, Nogales, Hermosillo, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros, Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Merida.

Millions of Americans safely live, work, and take vacations in Mexico every year. Security conditions vary significantly throughout the country, and for that reason the Department of State has gone to great lengths to craft and update regionally-specific guidance for American citizens in Mexico. Crime varies widely in Mexico depending upon location; the Department of State crime threat rating for Mexico City is Critical, the highest Department rating.

Crime Threats

Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) produce significant levels of violence throughout parts of the country. The northern half of the country was considered a higher threat area, primarily due to TCO conflicts and competition for drug trafficking routes to the United States. Recent statistics, however, show that this trend may be changing and that violence is on the rise in the center of the country. For example, the states of Mexico and Guerrero had the highest homicide rates in 2013. Kidnappings are on the rise within Mexico, and the states of Guerrero, Michoacán, Mexico, Tamaulipas, and Morelos recorded some of the highest rates in the country. Thus, while crime and violence remain high in the border areas, central Mexican states became increasingly violent in 2013. In its efforts to combat violence, the Government of Mexico (GOM) has deployed security forces to various parts of the country.

Another phenomenon in 2013 was the emergence of self-defense groups, allegedly composed of local citizenry disgruntled with violence and perceived government inaction, corruption, and/or complicity. The number of groups has grown over the past year, and as of January 2014, there were groups in the states of Michoacán, Guerrero, Mexico, Tabasco, and Oaxaca. Most of these groups are armed with firearms. In many cases, they operate without official support from the government and have been labeled by some as criminal organizations themselves. In Guerrero, many of these groups operate under an official umbrella, and the government is in process of bringing some groups in Michoacan into a legal framework.

Mexico is experiencing conditions that collectively degrade the security environment in certain areas, including in the central states, such as Michoacán and Guerrero. While the government is successful in capturing some of its most wanted criminals, the TCOs are becoming much less organized and disciplined as has been widely reported in the press. Various TCOs have splintered into smaller gangs, which have branched out into different illegal business activities, and the associated violence is spreading. While most of those killed in narcotics-related violence have been members of TCOs, innocent persons have also been killed.

Although there is no pattern of criminals specifically targeting foreign or American businesses or personnel, criminals do not avoid doing so if the target presents itself as sufficiently lucrative and vulnerable. Foreign and American companies have also been extorted and some have been attacked for not responding as the criminals' demands.

Armed robberies, “express” kidnappings, car thefts, carjackings, credit card fraud, and various forms of residential and street crime are daily concerns. The low rate of convictions of criminals contributes to the high crime rate. Criminals select victims based on an appearance of prosperity, vulnerability, or a lack of awareness. Displays of wealth are magnets for thieves in Mexico City. Wearing expensive jewelry, watches, and displays of large amounts of cash draw unwanted attention. Jewelry and expensive watches and cellular phones can be sold easily in vast illegal markets. Although Mexico employs strict gun-control laws, criminals are usually armed with handguns (or knives) when carrying out street crime.

There have been reports of instances in which U.S. citizens in Mexico have had their card numbers “skimmed” and the money in their debit accounts stolen or their credit cards fraudulently charged (“Skimming” is the theft of credit card information by an employee of a legitimate merchant or bank, manually copying down numbers or using a magnetic stripe reader, or using a camera and skimmer installed in an ATM). In addition to skimming, the risk of physical theft of credit or debit cards also exists.

Organized crime is common in many areas of Mexico. One common practice is for gangs to charge ‘protection fees’ or add their own tax to products and services with the threat of violence for those who fail to pay. Some TCOs mandate that individuals or even whole companies work for them as lookouts or couriers. Still others will threaten municipal and state level administrators into accepting corrupt practices. Beheadings, torture, and other gruesome displays of violence have become routine in various parts of the country and have also occurred in the Mexico City metropolitan area. Numerous journalists and bloggers have been killed over the past few years. In fact, Mexico is now considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters, according to the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers.

Overall Road Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Road conditions vary widely in cities and on the highways. Likewise, the quality of road markings/signs and street lighting is good in some areas and nonexistent in others. Drivers may ignore signals and street signs, and accidents are common in urban areas. Accidents, often involving heavy trucks or buses, are common on the highways, especially near urban areas with high volumes of commercial traffic. To reduce the risk of criminal activity and accidents, you are strongly urged to travel only during daylight hours throughout Mexico, to avoid isolated roads, and to use main highways and toll roads wherever possible.

The government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat the TCOs. U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways may encounter government checkpoints, which are often staffed by military personnel. You are advised to cooperate with personnel at government checkpoints and mobile military patrols. TCOs have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints and killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them. Likewise, self-defense groups have established checkpoints in their local communities and have likewise shot and wounded travelers who failed to stop. When approaching any checkpoint, regardless of whether it is legal or illegal, cooperate and avoid any actions that may be perceived to be suspicious or aggressive. In February 2013, Mexican tourists driving through San Marcos, Guerrero State, were shot and wounded when they failed to stop at a self-defense group checkpoint. While violent incidents have occurred at all hours of the day and night on both modern toll ("cuotas") highways and on secondary roads, they have occurred most frequently at night and on isolated, non-toll roads.

Prior to road travel, ensure that your vehicle is in good operating condition, paying particular attention to the engine, tires, brakes, head and tail lights, spare tire and jack, horn, and fluid levels. Particularly on long trips to remote areas, try to travel with other vehicles, and advise someone of your travel plans, including anticipated arrival and departure times and contact numbers. The following items are recommended for extended road trips: cellular telephone with charger (although some areas between cities lack coverage); maps and a GPS device; spare tire; first aid kit; fire extinguisher; jumper cables; flares/reflectors; and emergency tool kit.

Cargo and supply chain theft is an issue in several parts of Mexico, especially the industrialized areas around Monterrey, the center of the country, the Gulf Coast, and the routes in between these areas. According to the Global Carto Theft Assesment for 2013 published by Frieghwatch International (a private US-based firm that tracks cargo theft), there were 1,519 confirmed incidents of cargo theft in Mexico in 2012. According to the report, most of these incidents occurred in the State of Mexico and Mexico City and in the State of Nuevo Leon. Cargo theft is concentrated in these areas because they are centers of industry and/or distribution hubs for cargo. The statistics from 2013 were not yet available.

Threats include hijacking on the road or at stops, thefts from warehouses and other storage facilities, and thefts from trains. Thieves target products that can be readily sold. Criminal groups have demonstrated increasing technical proficiency in targeting cargo. On March 5, 2013, a truck containing consumer electronics components was hijacked in Tlalnepantla, State of Mexico, just outside of Mexico City. The box truck was equipped with three tracking devices: a hard-wired fleet tracking system and two covert devices. The hijackers utilized a cellular signal jammer, placed in the rear seat of the passenger cabin of the truck, to interfere with the trackers. The fleet tracking system was completely disabled. However, only one of the two covert trackers was disabled; the other remained functional throughout the incident, allowing State of Mexico Police to execute a successful recovery. In another case, in December 2013, a truck carrying radioactive isotopes used for medical purposes was hijacked, and criminals stolen the radioactive material. There is no evidence that suggests that the criminals intentionally targeted the truck for the cargo and more than likely assumed that cargo of value was being carried that they could seize. The material was eventually recovered safely, and the criminals responsible were apprehended. There is also the risk of the legitimate supply chain being infiltrated by illicit merchandise such as precursor chemicals being imported into Mexico or illegal drugs being exported to the U.S.

Air connections within Mexico are good, and the Embassy recommends that its employees fly, rather than drive, to many destinations.

"Libre" taxi cabs are poorly regulated and often criminally-linked enterprises, which pick up fares on the street after being hailed by customers. "Sitio" or radio dispatched base station taxis are far safer, more reliable, and are worth the added expense. "Sitio" or radio dispatched base station taxis cannot be hailed off the street and must be ordered by phone or met at a designated taxi stand. Twenty-four hour radio taxi service is available at 5516-6020 and 3626-9800 to 30. “Sitio” taxis in Mexico City are most often metered and registered by the government. “Sitio” taxis from Benito Juarez International Airport are paid in advance in the terminal (at the “Sitio” stands) and are well regulated.

Visitors should travel by intercity bus only during daylight hours and only by first-class conveyance whenever possible. Although there have been several reports of bus hijackings and robberies on toll roads, buses on toll roads have experienced a lower rate of incidents than buses (second and third-class) that travel the less secure "free" highways.

In Mexico City, municipal buses and the Metro (subway) are generally safe to use. Non-municipal buses ("micros") are not well regulated and are not recommended. City buses and the Metro may be crowded, and passengers should be on the alert for pickpockets and other thieves, especially on the most crowded, busiest routes during rush hour. Passengers should take care to protect their belongings and valuables. There have been no reports of significant security incidents (apart from theft) on tourist buses in and around Mexico City and to nearby tourist destinations. The Country Specific Information for Mexico has a comprehensive section on traffic/roads at: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html#traffic_safety

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

The government remains vigilant against domestic and international terrorist threats. No known international terrorist organization has an operational presence in Mexico, and no terrorist group targeted U.S. citizens in or from Mexican territory. Mexico does not provide a safe haven to terrorists or terrorist groups.

Civil Unrest

American interests in Mexico City are generally not targets of political violence. Peaceful demonstrations of all sizes gather regularly at the Angel monument near the U.S. Embassy to protest Mexican government policies, labor and social issues, and, occasionally, U.S policies. Other public protests tied to political, social, and labor issues occur regularly throughout Mexico City and often affect traffic during peak commute hours on and near Paseo de La Reforma, the city's primary avenue passing in front of the U.S. Embassy.

However, even demonstrations intended to be peaceful may turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Demonstrators frequently block city streets and major highways.

In 2013, there were a number of incidents involving package bombs in and around Mexico City. In the past three years, explosive devices were delivered to banks, stores, colleges, hospitals, a church, a Mexican government building, and the Chilean, Italian, and Greek Embassies. Animal rights groups in conjunction with anarchists groups have claimed responsibility for several of these devices. The majority of these devices have been “victim operated,” meaning that they did not have a timer or remote trigger and simply waited for an unsuspecting person to open the package and detonate the bomb. There have also been several explosive devices planted at ATMs in Mexico City. These have mostly occurred during early morning hours. These have included Santander, Banamex, and Scotia Bank.

The Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners; such actions may result in detention and/or deportation.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Earthquakes within the Embassy’s consular districts are routine, especially in the Pacific coast states. In 1985, Mexico City was hit by one of the most devastating earthquakes in the history of the Americas. The earthquake measured 8.1 on the Richter scale. According to official government statistics, at least 9,000 people were killed, 30,000 injured, and 100,000 left homeless. Over 400 buildings were destroyed and over 3,000 seriously damaged. The government expects that another significant earthquake may occur at any time, and although there have been substantial improvements in building regulations and response planning, there is no guarantee that there would not be significant damage, injuries, and loss of life. On August 21, 2013, central Mexico was rocked by an earthquake measuring a 6.2. On December 29, 2013, another strong earthquake was registered in Baja California.

Volcanoes, both active and dormant, are scattered throughout central Mexico. One of the country’s largest volcanoes, Popocatepetl, 43 miles southeast of Mexico City, has had several low level eruptions within the last year. According to Mexican public safety officials, travelers to the area should have N-95-type filter masks available in case ash falls on them. The clouds of ash associated with volcanic activity can limit air travel and make evacuation by air difficult.

From June to November, hurricanes may affect the Pacific and Gulf coasts of the Embassy’s consular district. The coastal states tend to receive the brunt of these storms; however, hurricanes and tropical storms have been known to cause flooding and disruption of utility services throughout the district.

Industrial and Transportation Accidents

On January 31, 2013, there was a large explosion at the headquarters of Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) in Mexico City that left at least 37 people killed and 126 wounded. In the official investigation report released by the GOM, the cause of explosion was a buildup of dangerous gases ignited by an electrical spark.

Accidents involving tractor trailers and other commercial vehicles are common, and there have been several train derailments during the past year.

Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Thefts

Mexico remains on the Watch List in the 2013 Special 301 Report, which is prepared annually by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) under Section 301 as amended of the Trade Act of 1974. The report identifies trade barriers to U.S. companies and products due to the intellectual property laws, such as copyright, patents and trademarks, in other countries. Each year, the USTR must identify countries that do not provide "adequate and effective" protection of intellectual property rights or "fair and equitable market access to United States persons that rely upon intellectual property rights." Mexico has not implemented its NAFTA IPR obligations on data protection for pharmaceuticals, nor has it clarified its patent linkage system. Mexico has yet to ratify the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) and introduce legislation to amend its copyright law to implement WIPO Internet treaties and criminalize camcording in theaters. To better protect its borders and stem the transit of illicit goods through Mexico, the Mexican government would have to give customs officers the authority, without the need for a court order, to seize products suspected of being pirated or counterfeit. An improved coordination among federal, state, and municipal enforcement officials, as well as among federal agencies is required to better prosecute IPR crimes. Due to rampant IPR violations, stakeholder pressures are growing for possible elevation of Mexico to Priority Watch List.

Much, if not most, of the trade in pirated and counterfeit goods in Mexico is controlled by TCOs.

Regional Travel Concerns and Restricted Travel Areas/Zones

Travel for U.S. government employees is closely scrutinized due to the ebb and flow of violence associated with TCO. The Embassy strictly controls U.S. government employees’ travel to several parts of the Embassy’s district. These areas include large sections of the border area, as well as the central states of Michoacán and Guerrero. For a state-by-state assessment of the security conditions please see the latest U.S. Department of State Travel Warning for Mexico at: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/mexico-travel-warning.html

Travelers to Mexico City should be aware that the Government prevents access to the Popocatepetl volcano and has closed it to climbers and hikers.

Drug-related Crimes

Although Mexican drug trafficking organizations have existed for decades, they became more powerful as control shifted away from Colombian cartels in the 1990s. Violence between rival Mexican TCOs increased dramatically over the last decade, as they fought each other and the GOM for control of production areas, trafficking routes, and local markets.

The GOM continues to strengthen law enforcement institutions and to disrupt and dismantle the TCOs responsible for drug trafficking-related violence. In the recent past, these criminal groups have used terrorist-like tactics, such as car bombs and grenades, to attack each other and security forces. They also commit gruesome acts designed to terrorize; however, the effects of these acts seem directed largely at rival gangs. To date, criminal groups have not shown a pattern of targeting innocent civilians for political purposes or espousing political motivation for their actions. There was no evidence that the criminal organizations had political or territorial motivations, aside from seeking to maintain the impunity with which they operate.

Kidnapping Threats

Kidnapping for ransom is an established criminal activity in Mexico. The numbers of kidnapping incidents are difficult to determine because most of the cases are not reported to authorities, as the popular belief is that the police may be involved in the crime or are unable to resolve the situation. However, in 2012, GOM authorities released perhaps the most comprehensive statistics to date on the numbers of reported kidnappings. The Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI) reported that in 2012, there were an estimated 105,682 kidnapping cases. Of these, only 1,317 were reported to law enforcement. In some cases, a ransom is paid, and the victim is set free, but in other cases, victims are killed. Most kidnappings reported were so-called “express kidnappings,” with far fewer reports of kidnapping for ransom. INEGI gathered these statistics through face-to-face interviews at nearly 96,000 homes, and the results were audited by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Press reporting at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 report that kidnappings appear to have increased notably in 2013. Affluent residents in Mexico City often have bodyguards and armored vehicles for their families to protect them against kidnapping.

Express kidnappings are a common type of abduction and are based on the 24-hour withdrawal limit placed on ATM cards industry-wide. A common modus operandi for express kidnappings in Mexico City is: passengers using “Libre” taxis are often robbed by two or three armed individuals who enter the taxi a few minutes into the trip, having been called or signaled by the driver. The passenger is held for hours and released after a small ransom is paid, or the victim is shuttled to ATMs and forced to withdraw funds. Since 24-hour withdrawal limits are now standard, express kidnapping victims are often held for 24 to 48 hours to maximize withdrawal amounts.

A few official U.S. government employees have been kidnaped, and many Mexican employees of the embassy either have been victimized themselves or personally know a victim. The term "express kidnapping" is also applied to the kidnapping of random victims held for brief periods where only small ransom amounts are demanded. A typical scenario may last for several hours and be settled for the peso-equivalent of a few thousand dollars.

Another related tactic is a type of telephone extortion known as a “virtual kidnapping.” Although these types of calls vary in style, the methodology is invariably the same: the virtual kidnapping callers mention that they have kidnapped a loved one and often include a crying/pleading voice immediately after the call is answered and before the “kidnapper” gets on the phone. In this manner, they hope to confuse the victim and get them to give away important information. For example, if the crying voice sounds like your child in any way, and you call out that child’s name, the caller now knows the name of the child that could potentially be a kidnap victim and will use this knowledge against you. The voice of the “victim” will usually be crying and/or hysterical –making it difficult to identify and increase the likelihood that you will believe it is your loved one. The criminals will try to use fear and timing against you. For example, they plan their calls to coincide with times when it will be difficult to contact a child or another adult immediately (e.g. when children are on their way to/from school). Or, the scammers will obtain two cell phones of two family members. They will call both victims at the same time and claim to have kidnapped the other relative. They will use fear and the threat of harm to keep both victims on the line while they press them to pay a “ransom.” Once the kidnappers are satisfied that they have obtained as much money as they can, they end the call, leaving both family members poorer and confused. They may demand the ransom be delivered in person, which may turn into a real kidnapping, or that the money be sent electronically.

Other variations on this scam use callers who claim to be lawyers or Mexican police looking to help get one of your family members out of jail (or some other bad situation). They pressure you to pay them to waive charges or payoff alleged corrupt officials in order to free your loved one and avoid a long and expensive judicial process. Virtual kidnapping/extortion calls are made to both Mexican and external numbers and often use information obtained from social networking websites. Other scams have been reported by tourists staying in popular hotels. Often times the callers will make statements to suggest surveillance such as: “we saw you at the school with your truck.” These are very vague but imply they have been watching your family and using fear and everyday routines against you to reinforce the threat of the kidnapping.

Police Response

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

In some instances, U.S. citizens have become victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion by law enforcement and other officials. Mexican authorities have cooperated in investigating such cases, but one must have the officer's name, badge number, and patrol car number to pursue a complaint effectively. Please note this information if you ever have a problem with police or other officials. In addition, tourists should be wary of persons representing themselves as police officers or other officials. When in doubt, ask for identification. Be aware that offering a bribe to a public official to avoid a ticket or other penalty is a crime in Mexico. U.S. citizens are advised to cooperate with the police if stopped or questioned.

During business hours, U.S. citizens requiring immediate assistance should call the Embassy at 52-55-5080-2000, extension 4440. After business hours, U.S. citizens requiring immediate assistance should call the Embassy at 52-55-5080-2000, extention 0 and ask for the operator to connect you to the Embassy Duty Officer.

Where to Turn to for Assistance if you Become a Victim of Crime

Travelers may contact the Consular Section (contact information in previous paragraph) or the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City for assistance in dealing with the Mexican police. U.S. citizens are advised to cooperate with the police if stopped or questioned. If involved in a traffic accident or victimized by crime, one may be required to accompany the investigating officer to the local police station to file a complaint or respond to questions. Should a police report be required for an insurance claim, a nominal fee will be charged.

Police Emergency: 066 (similar to 911 in the U.S.)
Fire Department: 068
Ambulance: 065 (Red Cross)
Consejo Ciudadano de Seguridad Publica y Procuracion de Justicia del Distrito Federal (in Mexico City, takes complaints from those afraid to go to the police): 5533-5533

Various Police/Security Agencies

Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR): PGR or The Office of the Mexican Attorney General is responsible for investigating and prosecuting federal crimes.
Secretary of Interior (Secretaría de Gobernación - SEGOB): SEGOB – Oversees Federal Police forces throughout the country. The Federal Police are approximately 40,000 strong and are present in all Mexican States. Also oversees the Mexican Immigration Service (INAMI), whose officers have the right to detain suspected undocumented aliens and, under certain conditions, may deport them without formal deportation proceedings.
Secretariat of Finance and Public Credit (Secretaría de Hacienda y Crédito Público) customs officers (Aduana) are deployed at borders and at international airports to interdict contraband entering Mexico.
The Bank of Mexico (Banco de México) also operates its own security division, which is charged with enforcing banking and monetary laws, including cases of counterfeiting, fraud, and money laundering.
Procuraduria General de Justicia – PGJ: PGJ is the local Mexican Attorney in each State/City, which is mainly in charge of investigating and prosecuting local crimes.
Each of the country's 31 states and the Federal District maintain both preventive and judicial police. State police are under the direction of the state's governor. Each Mexican State contains numerous municipalities and within each municipality exist a municipal police force.
Over the last six years, the various branches of the Mexican Military have been heavily involved in anti-crime initiatives as they combat TCOs.

Medical Emergencies

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of States Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://www.travel.state.gov. Country-specific information regarding Mexico is provided at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_970.html#medical. For international treatment and medical insurance, see http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1470.html

Contact Information for Recommended Local Hospitals and Clinics

ABC HOSPITAL (OBSERVATORIO)
Sur 136 No. 116 Col. Las Américas,
01120 México, D.F.
Telephone: 5230-8000

ABC HOSPITAL (SANTA FE)
Av. Carlos Graef Fernández 154 (enter from Av. Vasco de Quiroga), Col. Tlaxala Santa Fe, Cuajimalpa, 05300 México, D.F.
Telephone: 1103-1600; Emergencies: 1103-1666 (Spanish)

HOSPITAL ESPANOL
613 Av Ejército Nacional (Miguel Hidalgo)
11520 México, D.F.
Telephone: 5255-9600

HOSPITAL ANGELES DE LAS LOMAS
AV, VIALIDAD DE LA BARRANCA S/N (VALLE DE LAS PALMAS)
Huixquilucan, Edo. De México
Telephone: 5246-5000, Emergencies: 5246-5092, 5246-5093

Recommended Air Ambulance Services

An example of an air ambulance service (for severe injuries or illnesses best treated in the U.S): AEA International, (800) 752-4195, 24/7 Number: 1-215-942-8226.

CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

CDC International Traveler's hotline - 24 hour info available at 888-232-6348 or 800-232-4636 or http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/mexico.

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Crimes/Scams

To reduce the likelihood of receiving a virtual kidnapping call: Answer the phone with “hello” and make the other person ask for you by name; Know the details of your family’s travel and location (where they are supposed to be, who they are supposed to be with, etc.), and contact information (land-line and cell phone numbers); Never provide personal information to someone who calls or approaches you; and Do not post personal information on social networking sites.

Areas to be Avoided

According to the Procuraduria General de Justicia del Distrito Federal and the Secretaria Publica del Distrito Federal, the following city boroughs routinely have the highest number of crimes reported: Iztapalapa, Cuauhtémoc, Gustavo A. Madero, Benito Juárez, Coyoacan, and Alvaro Obregón.

Additionally, the neighborhoods that routinely have the highest number of crimes reported are as follows: El Centro, Colonia Del Valle, Colonia Narvarte, Colonia Doctores, Colonia Roma, Colonia Agricola Oriental, Colonia Juarez, Colonia Guerrero, Colonia Maria La Ribera, and Colonia Obrera.
 
Best Situational Awareness Practices

Visitors to Mexico should be familiar with the Department’s information on traveling to Mexico, use strong personal security practices and recognize that crime can occur anyplace and anytime.

Be alert to your surroundings. Minimize valuables and do not carry large sums of money while in crowded, urban areas. Be aware of popular scams and robbery tactics used to distract your attention. Avoid wearing jewelry, especially watches that are or appear expensive. Make copies of what you carry so if robbed the can be cancelled quickly. Never leave shopping bags or merchandise unattended. Maintain a low profile. Dress casually, keep valuables out of sight, and do not draw attention to yourself with your actions.

Vary your routine. Be unpredictable in your movements, vary your routes from home to the office as well as your departure and arrival times. Be alert to possible surveillance. Note any individual who appears out of place along your routes to regularly scheduled activities, such as going from home to office.

When hiring domestic help, vet them to the greatest extent possible. Ensure that they are trained not to volunteer information to strangers or to allow access of workers without prior authorization.

One simple way to lessen one’s chances of becoming a victim of street crime in Mexico City is to avoid the use of "Libre" taxi cabs. Due to the danger involved in utilizing "Libre" taxis, and the increased difficulty in determining the difference between the different types of taxis, the best practice is to avoid hailing taxis in the street entirely. Instead, call, or have the merchant you are visiting call a radio dispatched "Sitio" taxi.

Only carry those credit cards and documents necessary during your visit. Exercise caution when utilizing credit or debit cards in ATMs or dubious locales. To prevent such skimming and theft of credit/debit cards, the Embassy recommends that travelers keep close track of their personal belongings when out and about and that they only carry what they need. If travelers choose to use credit cards, they should regularly check their account status to ensure its integrity. Try to use ATMs in bank branches during business hours. If you see a suspicious bag or device in or around an ATM, stop what you are doing, leave the area immediately, and report the suspicious package to the authorities.

U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations and to exercise caution if in the vicinity of any protests. Travelers should avoid political demonstrations and other activities that might be deemed political by the Mexican authorities.

If your tire is mounted on the outside of the vehicle, secure it in place with chain and padlock or similar device. Theft of the vehicle’s operating computer and car sound system is a common crime. The installation of a car alarm is strongly recommended. Also, if you purchase a car radio, look for models that can be removed from the dash and locked in the trunk. Also, keep your vehicle sterile, storing anything that would entice a thief out of plain view. Replace two lug nuts on each wheel with specially keyed bolts that lock or can only be removed with a special attachment to the tire iron. Try to avoid leaving your vehicle on the street. Park inside a residential compound, in a parking lot with an attendant, or at least within view of the location of your visit. If this is not possible, leave your car at home and take a sitio taxi. When parking within a shopping facility lot, be sure to park as close as possible to the store entrance, and away from dumpsters, bushes, or large vehicles. Be sure to lock your doors, close windows, and hide shopping bags and gifts in the trunk, out of sight.

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 always prudent to leave a detailed itinerary, including local contact information and expected date of return, with a friend or family member, as well as sign up for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Embassy Mexico City
Paseo de la Reforma, 305
Mexico, D.F. 06500
Monday through Friday – 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Embassy Contact Numbers

Mexico country code: 52
Mexico City area code: 55
Telephone - 5080-2000 (24/7 switchboard operator)
Regional Security Officer 5080-2000 ext 2400
Medical Unit 5080-2400 ext 2800
Consular Affairs 5080-2000, ext. 4440 (after hours request duty officer via switchboard)
Political Section 5080-2000 ext 2052
Economic Section 5080-2000 ext 2999 or 2699

OSAC Country Council Information

U.S. Embassy Mexico City supports an active OSAC Country Council Affiliate with a membership of 90 companies. For information on OSAC and future OSAC Mexico City events, contact Ms. Janet Salgado at 5080-2000, ext. 4918. For more information, contact the Regional Security Office at U.S. Embassy Mexico City or OSAC's Program Officer for the Western Hemisphere or visit the Council online at: http://mexicocity.osac.gov/http//mexicocity.osac.gov or http://www.osac.gov.