According to the current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication, Mexico has been assessed as Level 2: exercise increased caution, and the state of Chihuahua has been assessed as Level 3: reconsider travel.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Consulate General 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.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Ciudad Juarez as a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Please 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.
While there is no indication U.S. citizens are specifically targeted, violence and crime rates remain high in this area of Mexico. U.S. citizens traveling to Ciudad Juarez and the city of Chihuahua need to guard against robbery, carjacking, theft, and burglary.
A significant number of homicides in both cities are cartel/gang-related and are targeted actions where the perpetrators generally avoid injuring innocent bystanders.
Carjacking also remains a problem in both cities. Most carjackings occur in traffic, day and night, and in all areas of town. However, living in a gated community or working in a location with access-control measures decreases the chances of being a victim of carjacking.
Reports of extortion remained low in 2017. 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 placed at random and can originate from outside of the state of Chihuahua, sometimes from inside Mexican prisons.
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). U.S. and Mexican citizens are sometimes accosted on the street and forced to withdraw money from their accounts using their ATM cards. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report, “The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud.”
Other Areas of Concern
U.S. citizens should 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, Nuevo Casas Grandes, and its surrounding areas, and, with prior RSO approval and via specific routes, certain border cities.
Crime and violence remain serious problems throughout the state of Chihuahua, particularly in the south and in the Sierra Mountains, including Copper Canyon.
For more information, please 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. It is recommended travelers 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 quickly flood due to lack of adequate drainage.
In the event of a transportation accident, both Ciudad Juarez and the city of Chihuahua have sufficient first responder and medical infrastructure to handle the situation. If transportation incidents occur in isolated areas, the 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, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”
Public Transportation Conditions
The use of public buses is not recommended.
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 also be used to summon a registered taxi.
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Ciudad Juarez as being a LOW-threat location for terrorist activity directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Ciudad Juarez as being a HIGH-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Large-scale, public demonstrations or strikes are infrequent in Ciudad Juarez or the city of Chihuahua.
Flooding is a concern because rainfall tends to overwhelm drainage capacity. High-clearance vehicles are helpful in these situations. Heavy precipitation can close roads and cause significant delays.
The ability of local authorities to contain a major HAZMAT situation is limited. Emergency personnel are available but 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, the response could take hours.
Due to the large number of corporations and manufacturing facilities, espionage and intellectual property thefts can occur, though there is no reporting to indicate this is a serious problem.
The majority of homicides in Ciudad Juarez and the city of Chihuahua are considered to be drug-related. As a major drug-trafficking corridor, the state of Chihuahua has been contested by major drug-trafficking organizations for years. With greater availability of drugs in Ciudad Juarez, local drug use has increased.
Kidnappings are a constant threat throughout the state of Chihuahua. However, kidnappings related to drug trafficking may be recorded separately in statistics, and due to fear of retribution, reported kidnappings 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, please review OSAC’s Report, “Kidnapping: The Basics.”
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
U.S. citizens are advised to cooperate with police if stopped or questioned. U.S. citizens who are detained or harassed by police should contact the American Citizen Services Unit during business hours at +52 656-227-3411. Outside of business hours, U.S. citizens should contact the Consulate General at +52 656-227-3000.
If a U.S. citizen is in custody and does not have access to a phone, s/he should request to speak to the Consulate, as is required to be permitted by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
Crime Victim Assistance
If you require immediate assistance from police, 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, U.S. citizens should contact the Consulate General at +52 656-227-3000.
Federal Police: Primarily functions as highway patrol and airport policing. Special investigative units exist to investigate federal crimes.
Policia Estatal Unica: Formed in 2012 with state patrol and investigative responsibilities.
Chihuahua State Police: Responsible for the investigation of all state crimes and includes specialized groups for anti-kidnapping.
Municipal Police: Mainly patrol and crime prevention without investigative authority. They are the primary responders when summoned through 911 in a metropolitan area.
Transito Police: Traffic enforcement and route control.
For emergency medical assistance, dial 911. The Mexican Red Cross provides ambulance services in emergencies.
Contact Information for Hospitals/Clinics
For medical assistance, please refer to the Consulate’s Medical Assistance page. The document details what to expect when hospitalized in Mexico and actions U.S. citizens may take.
It is recommended that people residing or working in Ciudad Juarez on a permanent basis 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
U.S. Consulate General Ciudad Juarez
Paseo De La Victoria 3650
Ciudad Juarez, Chih.
Hours of Operation: 0800-1700 Mon-Fri
Consulate Contact Numbers
Consulate Switchboard: +52 656-227-3000
Embassy Mexico City: https://mx.usembassy.gov/
Consulate Guadalajara: https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/guadalajara/
Consulate Hermosillo: https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/hermosillo/
Consulate Matamoros: https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/matamoros/
Consulate Merida: https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/merida/
Consulate Monterrey: https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/monterrey/
Consulate Nogales: https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/nogales/
Consulate Nuevo Laredo: https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/nuevo-laredo/
Consulate Tijuana: http://tijuana.usconsulate.gov/https://mx.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/tijuana/
All U.S. citizen travelers should register with the nearest U.S. Consulate through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Mexico Country Information Sheet