Bid on Travel.com

How Safe Is Mazatlan Mexico?

.
How Safe Is Mazatlan Mexico?

March 3, 2014 security update:

The most recent U.S. Department of State Mexico Travel Warning states (italics mine), "We recommend that any travel in Mazatlan be limited to Zona Dorada and the historic town center, as well as direct routes to/from these locations and the airport."

Note though that the Zona Dorada, where nearly all hotels and resorts are located, and the town center, including its wonderful Plaza Machado area, are where most travelers remain anyway.

As of March 3, 2014, the Government of Canada has no travel warnings for any neighborhood in Mazatlan. Mazatlan remains one of the most popular destinations for western Canadians.

Of course, you should take the normal precautions of an experienced world travelers by not flaunting valuables, staying sober enough to comprehend your environment, and the like.

United States government employees stationed in Mexico must take precautions far beyond those of normal travelers. Due to the U.S working closely with the Mexican government to eradicate them, drug cartels consider them enemies just as if they worked for a rival cartel.

Both the Canadian and U.S. governments recommend flying to resort areas in Mexico, not driving between the U.S. border and these.

Mexican cartels & travelers

Traditionally, Mexican cartels have not targeted American and Canadian travelers, unless believed to be working for a rival cartel or for the U.S. government.

The U.S. State Department states, "Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day.  The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and other visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) have targeted U.S. visitors and residents based on their nationality."

Moreover, cartels have not typically atacked each other in Mexican resort towns. You might liken these destinations to neutral gang territories, where all are free to roam.

Nevertheless, this has changed somewhat in parts of Mazatlan, as well as in Acapulco, probably because of their proximity to intense cartel activities. This is almost certainly the reason the U.S. government cautions Americans to remain in just two areas of Mazatlan.

As the State Departments says, "One of Mexico's most powerful TCOs is based in the state of Sinaloa [the location of Mazatlan]. With the exception of Ciudad Juarez, since 2006 more homicides have occurred in the state's capital city of Culiacan than in any other city in Mexico."

The impact of the capture of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, the most powerful in Mexico, on February 22, 2014 remains unclear. Will his imprisonment bring a more peaceful Mexico or more bloodshed due to a power struggle? That no one knows.

My 2011 visit to Mazatlan

I had not planned to write about safety issues while in Mazatlan. As with so many Mazatlan visitors, I mainly planned to relax. Most travelers come here to enjoy the beaches, perhaps surf some on the best waves on the Pacific Coast, play some golf, shop, and perhaps do some sports fishing.

However, sometimes events interfere.

After arriving in Mazatlan just as a Canadian and a local woman wounded by stray bullets and several less serious incidents triggered cruise ship cancelations, I spent hours talking to Americans and Canadians who live in Mazatlan about security and other concerns there. Their help is hugely appreciated.

I observed the behavior of the many elderly foreign residents.

Some 7,000 Americans live in Mazatlan at least during winter plus Canadians whose estimates range from 2,500 to “way more” than the Americans. With sports bars featuring Canadian satellite TV and those “north end of North America” accents everywhere, the latter may be correct.

In Mazatlan, elderly foreigners wandered about the often not well-lit historic Plaza Machado area during the evening. They were out and about in all the tourist areas after dark.

Mexican nationals and others jammed the downtown “Old Town” shopping area well into the evening, unlike the situation in some American cities.

Not living in fear

Foreign residents I met are not living in fear. No one I met, young or old, has any intention of leaving Mazatlan.

All but one foreign resident dismissed what one called “media hysteria” about crime in Mazatlan. One person alleged cruise companies were using the “Canadian incident” as a negotiation ploy to lower “remarkably high” Mazatlan port charges. (He did not reply when I mentioned that news reports said more than half the people on one ship refused to get off after the Canadian was shot.)

Certainly, there is support for the view that crime in Mazatlan has been blown out of proportion.

For example during 2010, 526,000-cruise passengers visited Mazatlan without experiencing crime according to Mazatlan Port Director Alfonso Gil Diaz in Seatrade as quoted by Associated Press.

Mazatlan ship cancelations in 2010 came after three incidents involving passengers. (The wounded Canadian was not from a cruise ship.) According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, one involved “an assault on a tourist as he left the terminal . . .. In another, a crew member had his computer stolen, and the third involved an attempted robbery of cruise ship passengers.” 

Mazatlan increased security around its ship terminal.

Security in perspective

Ryon in the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum urges us to put security issues in perspective. When thinking about Mazatlan, compare it to Des Moines (crime map), he says.

While no group of states in the United States has crime problems equal to the Mexican states that border Texas, Ryon makes a valid point.

According to the United States Department of Commerce, Washington, DC, welcomed 16.4 million visitors during 2009. The number of people visiting DC remained high in spite of a poor economy. It would be difficult to find a more interesting city to enjoy than Washington, and I highly recommend it.

Nevertheless, Washington, DC, experiences an extremely high murder rate, as do Chicago and New Orleans.

In fact Chicago murders in 2012 averaged just shy of 42 per month.

When I first moved to DC, I lived in a neighborhood that remains some 99% American of African descent. According to Washington Post, this area had a violent crime rate as low as any mostly white DC suburb. In fact, its crime rate ranked lower than a great many suburban neighborhoods.

There were reasons for this. Most residents had lived there for years. They knew and looked out for each other. Because homes were built no more than two stories high, residents could easily see what was happening on their sidewalks and streets.

Local residents were not afraid to walk the streets. That in turn made the streets even safer.

These people lived in an alternative Washington, DC., one in which we felt reasonably safe and secure.

Should you visit Mazatlan?

In an embattled city like Ciudad Juarez, I doubt that many people enjoy a stress-free evening walk, but at least in the tourist areas of Mazatlan they still do.

You see there is also “an alternative Mazatlan, an alternative Sinaloa” in the tourist areas, and at least at the moment that is good enough for me. It may not be good enough for you.

My view: Whether you are in Mazatlan or Washington, DC, stay where families and lots of other typical people are walking about.

In Mazatlan, remain where you notice all those elderly American and Canadian residents enjoying an evening without fear.

And of course with its position in Sinaloa, the Mazatlan security situation could change even more than it already has. In my opinion, Mazatlan seems significantly more vulnerable to a worsening of its crime situation due to cartel activity than resorts like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta. Nevertheless, the situation has remained stable for some time.

The cartels do not care about Mexicans whose livelihoods depend on tourism. However, at least they do not target foreigners who are not involved in their types of activities.

At this time, I would feel comfortable returning to Mazatlan, but you may not.

On my last visit, I roamed all over Mazatlan by walking and taking local buses. Next time, I will stick to the tourist hotel areas along the beaches in Mazatlan and to the Plaza Machado/downtown area, and that is probably the best advice for you too.

Neither will I travel on the sometimes lonely highway from Puerto Vallarta to Mazatlan, as I did last time.

With all these concerns, I know that some will say, "Why not just go to Hawaii?" Well, many of us love Mazatlan. We love Mexico. These days, we just have to be more prudent about it. 

Above: Celebrities have come to Mazatlan since the 1940′s.

Comments

TravelDesigned
September 21, 2011

Don,
Nice job covering both sides. It is fair and offers good advice.

.
Jorge Gomez
September 21, 2011

I like what you wrote, very professional and educational.

.
Don Nadeau
September 21, 2011

Thank you, Jorge. I very much appreciate your comment.

Thank you, Stephanie. I know that you have traveled to Mexico many times and that you know Mexico well. I am honored by your comment.

.
Andrew Paez, aka: @medebe
September 21, 2011

Don, I appreciate your post and believe it is on point.

I was most recently in Mazatlan in November-December 2009 for the annual Maraton Del Pacifico (one of the best marathon, half-marathon, 5 and 10k races in Mexico, IMO). I attend every year and, as an aside, I highly recommend it for those so inclined.

During my stay I had with me my wife, children, and an invited school friend of my daughter who we brought along as part of a birthday gift for my daughter. They spent Thanksgiving week there with me and then left while I stayed to continue training for, and participate in, the race. Prior to leaving our guest’s mother pelted with me questions regarding the safety of Mexico in general and Mazatlan in particular. I answered all of her questions and she felt comfortable enough to allow her daughter to go, albeit with some trepidation.

As you might guess, we had a great time. The kids rode SeaDoos, ziplined in La Noria, climbed to the lighthouse, and ate everything in sight. To be sure, even though I have a lot of family in Mazatlan and have been there countless times, I was a bit extra careful given the added responsibility of a visitor who had been entrusted to our care. But, frankly, we didn’t remotely close to any issues related the on-going trafficking wars. Not that the war didn’t wage on while we were there, it’s just that the vast majority of the violence is taking place between those involved in trafficking and doesn’t involve the citizenry as a whole except for the occasional unfortunate “bala perdida (stray bullet).”

The chances of getting caught up in the middle of a gunfight clearly exist, but they are no greater than that of being in line at the bank when it is robbed. While the level of violence has clearly increased, and I don’t want to make light of the fact that these are dangerous times throughout Sinaloa, I still consider Mazatlan as safe as any other city of its size. Frankly, I have never had anyone accost me, attempt to rob me, break into our vacation home there, or otherwise disturb me. I run at 4:30 a.m. along the malecon (boardwalk) almost daily when I’m in Mazatlan, and have yet to have anyone do anything more than say good morning. In fact, watching the city come to life in the morning is one of the treats I’d recommend to any visitor, especially around the mercado Pino Suarez in Centro and along the malecon.

In keeping with your comments, if you stay where there are many people gathered and doesn’t venture into unknown neighborhoods in the bowels of the city, you are unlikely to have any problems. Can you get caught up in an unfortunate set of circumstances? Of course, but no more or less than you would anywhere else.

Enjoy Mazatlan, folks. It’s one of few places I’ve visited that successfully combines both a substantial expatriate(read: American/Canadian) component with a vibrant and typical Mexican urban experience. There’s a reason so many of us live/want to live there. Saludos!

.
Craig Zabransky
September 21, 2011

I recently (November) spent two weeks in Mazatlan. I traveled both with a group and solo. I walked the streets of Old Town at night and the beaches during the day. I attended a baseball game by myself, and enjoyed group dinners at popular restaurants. Over the entire travel, I never felt unsafe or unwelcome.

Mazatlan is the 2nd largest coastal and does not function on tourism alone. And yes, crime does exist. Like any city of over 500,000 people, (DC or any other) certain neighborhoods might be best to avoid at certain times. But I would not cancel any plans to visit the charming coastal city – in fact not might be the perfect time to go. You might find a good deal :)

stay adventurous, Craig

.
Don Nadeau
September 21, 2011

Andrew and Craig, thank you very much.

Craig has been writing extensively about Mazatlan on his blog at http://www.stayadventurous.com/ Lots of good material to check out.

I hope that you both are both able to return very soon!

.
Don Nadeau
September 21, 2011

I want to apologize to the person whose comment I deleted accidentally. He showed excellent personal knowledge of both Mazatlan and the route between it and the Mexico-U.S. border.

Looking through the spam filter, I found his comment that would have been very helpful to readers, but somehow deleted it and could not retrieve it by backspacing or any other means.

I am very sorry.

.
Stefano Pedroni
September 21, 2011

Hi Don, I think that was me :( …. No worries, I’ll write it again as soon as I get the chance.

Have a great day,
Stefano

.
Don Nadeau
September 21, 2011

@ Stefano, great! Thank you.

Again, sorry for the deletion.

Don

.
Stefano Pedroni
September 21, 2011

Hi Don,
I would like to contribute to this useful and informative post from my personal experience.
I lived and worked in Mexico for 11 years, nearly a third of my life. Working full time in the Tourism Industry, as business owner & always followed with great interest the political and safety situation of Mexico.
It is undenable that the escalation of the cartels activity of the last few years and the everlasting war on drugs made the criminality rates jump to high and scary percentages. From a tourist point of view though, the question that one need to ask is: “is it safe to me to travel to Mexico?”. Well to me the answer is YES. As long as you follow the common sense rules, which any tourist or traveller visiting a foreign country should follow anyway, you would be just fine.
Tourism is the 4th source of income of Mexico, there is a huge amount of money invested in the country by locals and foreigners, and it is a 100% in Mexico interest to make sure tourist and tourists areas are kept safe, and in my opinion they are doing a pretty good job!
I’ve crossed Mexico one last time before leaving for good in 2009, I stopped for a couple of days in Mazatlan and traversed Sinaloa state heading to the US. In certain secluded areas of the state you can certainly feel the tension of the ongoing war between police and drug cartels, but I can certianly assure that is NOT the case of Mazatlan and I feel I can strongly reccommend people to travel there without any worries.
Hope this helps,

Happy travels,

Stefano

.
Don Nadeau
September 21, 2011

Thanks Stefano!

.
Noha
September 21, 2011

Would like to know if someone can recommend a good package deal flight + hotel to Mazatlan where it is safe. Wonder if the Crown Plaza hotel is good enough or if there is others better? thanks

.
Don Nadeau
September 21, 2011

Noha, thank you.

Sorry can’t help with the Crown Plaza in Mazatlan, which I haven’t visited. It’s along the long tourist strip with many other hotels.

My needs may have been different than yours, as I wanted to be in a mostly Spanish-speaking environment in or near the old town, in order to work on my Spanish.

The Best Western Posada Freeman Express in the original resort zone across from the beach (with the rooftop pool you see in the first photo in this post) was the best choice for me, and I really liked it. Nevertheless, it lacks many of the attributes that you may be seeking in a modern resort hotel.

When booking a package, be sure to compare the prices of the hotel and airfare booked separately with the package price. Usually, packages work out better, but not always.

Have fun in Mazatlan!

.
Sol
September 21, 2011

Hi! My friend and I are planning to take an overnight bus from Tucson via Nogales to Maztatlan very soon. We have, however, become very worried because of warnings about buses being assaulted, robbed, kidnapped, passengers robbed, kidnapped, killed etc.

Does anybody know about the current situation of overnight travel (on buses) vs. day-travel on buses?

I would very much appreciate your advise!

Thank you very much,

Sol

.
Don Nadeau
September 21, 2011

Hi Sol,

As you know, both the American and Canadian governments advise against border area bus travel, although the situation is apparently much worse along the Texas border. Moreover, because so much Mexican farmland does not have fences, you stand a greater chance of running into cattle, etc. at night than in the States.

Nevertheless, so many services operate at night (some routes all at night), perhaps because people want to save money on accommodation.

This January faced with a really high airfare into Mazatlan when I could travel, I took TAP (Transportes y Autobuses del Pacifico) from Puerto Vallarta to Mazatlan mostly during the day. What a fine service that was! Super comfortable seats with lots of legroom. Nice countryside too. That cost USD $38 for 7 1/2 hours of travel with hardly a stop.

Some 70 percent of the passengers were mostly retired Americans and Canadians, who nearly all got off in Mazatlan.

North of Mazatlan, safety conditions deteriorate. Transportes y Autobuses del Pacifico does use the safer toll road north of Mazatlan, if that’s your choice. I did meet younger people who traveled into the country by van on the Pacific route without concern.

Yours is a decision I cannot make for you.

Enjoy your trip!

.
Don Nadeau
September 21, 2011

Hi again, Sol.

Because you are concerned about safety if you take a trans-border bus, I want to make sure you’ve checked all your options.

In my experience, Phoenix has more competitive fares than Tucson. Again in my experience, Puerto Vallarta has more competitive fares than Mazatlan. Have you checked options into and out of each?

And, have you checked more than once? Fares change quickly in this competitive environment.

Moreover, have you checked into and out of Guadalajara? You can easily travel by bus during the day from either Puerto Vallarta or Guadalajara to Mazatlan.

Also, have you checked fares for various days of the week? Some airlines do not fly everyday to resorts like Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta or do not fly with large planes that they need to fill everyday.

.
Susan
September 21, 2011

We have been traveling to Mazatlan for 17 years and have always felt safe. We will be going back in Oct. for 2 weeks. We stay at Pueblo Bonito Mazatlan. We have been nervous with all the news of trouble in Mazatlan and wonder if it is safe to go out to Estrella Del Mar to golf or to go down to the big marina to go fishing?? We love to go out to dinner at Pedro & Lolas and want to make sure it is safe.
If anyone can tell me if it is getting better in Mazatlan or is the crime getting worse. Thanks

.
Jimmy
September 21, 2011

I have also visited mazatlan for the past 5 yrs . This yr because of travel concern from mazatlan to lake El Salto we did not make the trip. We really enjoy Mazatlan and do not feel threatened but always want to include the fishing in lake El Salto which is about a hours drive north. Is there need for concern on the route to lake El Salto ?
Thanks

.
princess
September 21, 2011

We are taking our family vacation soon very excited but at the same time a bit worry.
we been in MAZATLAN already 4 times and never felt unsafe. it has been always a positive experience but certainly we take precaution not to leave the hotel as much and if we do we go with people we meet during the day to go out dinning.
we stay at pueblo bonito emerald bay and the security there is great.
does anyone knows how is the weather around this time ? i hope we are not disappointed as they told us rains a lot.. we go for the sun so i hope rains a lot at night but no during the day.. any suggestions anyone?

.
Don Nadeau
September 21, 2011

@ Jimmy & @ princess Thank you so much for your comments.

@ Jimmy, I am sorry that I do not know. Perhaps someone else will comment.

Have you friends from previous trips who could help? Also, the honorable Gloria Guevara Manzo, Secretary of Tourism for Mexico, talks remarkably candidly about travel safety in Mexico. Perhaps someone in her office could help.

@ princess Hot and muggy characterizes weather in Mazatlan region at this time of year. Rains can come at any time. Periodic tropical storms even if they do not hit Mazatlan directly can dump large amounts of rain.

Now, this may all seem terrible, but remember that these conditions also exist along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the U.S. at this time of year. I am used to these and do not mind visiting the Pacific Coast of Mexico during summer, but admittedly the season is not as pleasant as being there in winter.

.
margo
September 21, 2011

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about Mexico regarding safety and tourism. This is my third time back in Mexico and honestly, I feel more safe here than I do back home in Seattle. I’m currently in Puerto Vallarta, staying at Oasis hostel (http://www.oasishostel.com or feel free to check them out on facebook), and although its a 15 minutes away from Centro, I never have any concerns when walking “home”. I find that the locals in this country are extremely friendly and helpful. I think Mexico is an absolutely gorgeous place to visit, its a shame that more people don’t explore this beautiful country.

.
Brunson
November 22, 2011

I live in seattle too and you say that you feel safer in Mexico… Well I’m not sure if it’s the same Seattle but when in mazatlan I enjoyed myself thoroughly and the Italian food was better than in Turin!! I would not walk down any street with lots of “locals” after midnight anywhere in a Mexican city, unless I had dreads down to my waist and no shoes or socks… If you look like a bum people will leave you alone there..

In Seattle I walk around Greenlake at 3am several times a week… I assure you that unless you look homeless, in Mexico that’s a bad idea.
So, to say that you feel safer in Sinaloa than in Seattle is the stupidest thing ive ever heard anyone advise another person. Seattle is the greatest city in the USA, and PV is amazing as well as Mazatlan. But neither comes close to Seattle you [word deleted, because this is a family website] moron!! I hope you get mugged for being a naive American dumbass!! If someone gets hurt bc of your advise the blood is on your hands!! Always project caution and a tad of common sense!!

.
Don Nadeau
November 28, 2011

@ Margo and Brunson,

Thank you for your comments. Brunson, I am sure that you really do not hope that Margo gets “mugged for being a naive American dumbass!!” She was speaking from Puerto Vallarta, an extraordinarily mellow destination.

.
Paul
December 26, 2011

There is a theme in these posts. As soon as someone raises the issue of safety in Mexico, a chorus of apologists materializes and debunks the fears. Folks, these are legitimate concerns. Sure, Meico is cheap. But really, is it worth the risks?

Appalling the number of Canadians who ignore the government’s travel advisory and all the violence and figure if they drive down through Sinaloa in some sort of caravan, they will be safe. This is not just a lapse of judgment, it’s totally selfish and irresponsible behaviour. It causes unnecessary anxiety on the part of friends and family members. And the outrageous part of it is that they think the Canadian government is going to use our tax money to somehow rescue them when things go bad. Shameful.

To those in total denial about the situation in Mexico: comparing crime there to that in some of the worst U.S. cities, is ridiculous. Why would you do that? Perhaps to convince yourself that your decision to ignore expert advice and behave irresponsibly was the right one?

.
John
January 2, 2012

Was in MZT for the first time in the fall of 2011, and I have to say that it was a wonderful trip!  So relaxing as there were no crowds this time of year.  Weather was awesome with rain only while we slept.  In terms of safety, I would say it this way:  If you live in or near any major U.S. center city neighborhoods, the violent crime is far worse in your neighborhood than in most areas of Mazatlan.  No comparison!  If you live in some quiet suburb, MZT should make you no more nervous that when you visit the big city.  Of course, you’re in a foreign language speaking county with an unfamiliar currency which naturally adds to the disorientation. 

The greatest dangers are financial.  Don’t visit any “timeshare” presentations!  Most are total BS and some will even rob you blind. They will throw the kitchen sink at you to get you to attend, but DO NOT DO IT!  Google “Mazatlan timeshare scams” for the endless sea of hopeless, heart-broken, and/or angry victims.  Don’t forget the or proverb, “If it sounds too good to be true, than it is.”  E.g. the price of precious metal is the same all over the world, so if someone is trying to sell you an ornate piece of silver jewelry for $10-20 (and about 100 peddlers will), guess what?  It’s not really silver!  Of course, you could always buys one of these worthless trinkets as a charitable act.

The second greatest danger is irresponsible alcohol consumption.  If you are wandering around intoxicated, trust me, EVERYONE can tell, and you might as well wear a sign begging people to exploit you.  So don’t be a fool.

The people in MZT are generally very friendly and courteous, but remember that most locals who are comfortable approaching you are looking to get something out of you for their own financial gain.

Hope my two cents helps.

.
Don Nadeau
January 10, 2012

@Paul When I lived in several cities in Ontario, the violent crime rate ran about 10% of the overall U.S. rate. When I lived in Vancouver, the rate came in at about 20% of the U.S. rate.

Did I avoid travel to the United States altogether? No! I merely avoided travel to specific locales, where most crime occurs and took other common sense precautions.

If you read the Canadian government travel warnings, as I suggested, the violent crime situation in Mexico, as terrible as it unfortunately is in significant portions of the country, is nevertheless basically confined to specific locales in cities and certain regions.

Tourist Mazatlan and tourist Puerto Vallarta are still reasonably safe. I feel very comfortable in both.

As John says in the post following yours, irresponsible public alcohol consumption can open you to exploitation regardless of where you are and it’s especially a problem in a country whose culture and language differ from yours.

I am not saying that you should not avoid Mexico. You have to go with your comfort level. I am just saying that most violence does not impact travelers who stick to the traditional tourist areas in resort towns like Mazatlan.

.
Don Nadeau
January 10, 2012

@ John Thank you so much for your helpful comments.

I cross the street when I see a timeshare salesperson. The horror! I know people who really like their timeshares, but I’ll never buy one from someone with zero sales skills, just brute obnoxiousness.

.
T
March 2, 2012

I just got back from a week in Mazatlan. It’s like this… either you stay hidden on your resort, or you run the risk of running into problems with the cops. It’s not bad in the Zona Dorada, but if you stayed at the RIU, like I did, 15 minutes cab from town, you have no choice but to jump in a taxi if you want to go into the Zona Dorada at night. We considered renting scooters but concluded that it would be about as safe as jumping on a raft off the coast of South Africa, rubbing ourselves down in chicken blood and jumping in the water.

My first night out… driving around at 2am in the back of a pickup truck, on our way to the last night of carnival festivities, drinking beer, with 2 Mexicans and 8 Canadians… we stopped at a store to get more beer. I had to take a leak and the guy in the store wouldn’t unlock the front door. So while my fellow Canadians ordered beer through the window, I went to a patch of grass and took a leak on the grass. There was NOBODY around, I made sure of it. As I relieved myself, I looked over my shoulder and saw a cop car driving past us going the other way. I didn’t think anything of it. I was not urinating near, or even facing traffic. I finished up and walked back over to the pickup truck. As I stood there waiting for my fellow Canadians, I felt a tap on the shoulder… it was a pair of 5 foot Mexican cops and they motioned for me to place my hands on the vehicle, as they spoke to me in Spanish. I followed their orders and they frisked me. The 2 Mexicans that were with us, asked the cops what the problem was. It was explained that I was observed urinating on the grass and that I was going to a Mexican jail. The Mexican guys that were with us immediately tried to talk the cops out of it. They tried for 10 minutes. They even tried to bribe them. Finally the Mexican guys turned to me in English, saying “I don’t get it. These guys won’t play ball. They won’t take money or anything. They say that you are going to jail and there is nothing that will change their minds. It seems like they are on an ego trip and they want to show you who is boss.”.

So the one cop motions to me, for the 5th time, to get in the vehicle… and for the 5th time, I refused to comply. I was screwed and the 2 cops were losing their patience.

So I’m standing there, about to be put in a Mexican prison for God knows how long… locked up with Mazatlan’s worst… forced to either get sick drinking Mexican water and eating Mexican jail food, or die of thirst and hunger… at risk of a gang beating by police, and / or inmates… about to have this injustice laid upon me by the very people that we would EXPECT would PROTECT us from this sort of thing when we visit their country and contribute to their economy… and you wouldn’t believe who the %^&$ came to my rescue… 3 local Cartel affiliates.

After pleading for 15 minutes, this pickup truck with 3 very serious looking Mexicans, in plain clothes, pulls up behind the cop car. I figured they were plain clothes cops and that it was their backup. They were actually cartel affiliates and they were not pleased with the cops.

The driver of the pickup got out and motioned for the cop to come to him, in the same authoritative manner that the cop used with me. They spoke Spanish and the Mexican guys who were with me said “It’s your lucky day. Those guys are gang members and they aren’t happy that these 2 cops are harassing you. He’s telling them that the economy is bad enough and that nobody is traveling to Mazatlan anymore (which is true and for good reasons) and that cops like them are messing up business for everyone. He’s telling them… ‘Look at him. Look at his friends. They have money to spend. They are here to spend it… and you want to put them in jail? Not going to happen.’. He said if he has to make a phone call, the policeman is going to regret it.”

The cops were like “Ok boss, ok boss.” and tucked their tails between their legs. They didn’t even dare to look at me as they got in their car and drove away. Then the gangster guy told one of the Mexican guys we were with, something in Spanish… and then he got back in the pickup with the other 2 gangsters, as we loaded into the back of our own pickup / taxi.

As we drove away in the pickup truck, 6 of the 8 Canadians DEMANDED to be returned to the resort immediately. I asked the Mexican guy “What did that gangster say to you before he got back in his truck?”. He replied “He said tell your friend there won’t be any more problems from those particular cops… but also tell your friend he is NOT in Canada anymore.

Bottom line. The gangsters won’t attack you… the locals probably won’t either… but the cops will try, whether you give them a reason or not. They are predatory in their ways. I can’t feel safe in a place where the cops are actually the criminals. If you plan to stay on your resort, you’ll be fine, but if you do venture out, WATCH OUT FOR THE COPS.

.
Don Nadeau
March 15, 2012

@ T I very much appreciate your incredibly interesting comments. Am really glad you did not enter the Mexican legal system!

As you know, Mazatlan like Cancun is a major spring break destination. Mexico loves the money the students bring, but sadly some of them show with their behavior far too little respect for the country.

I know that you did not mean to be seen. Sadly for you though, urination in public—if the cops saw you, it was in public—is likely the thing that ticks off the locals most. Mexico has an extraordinarily conservative culture compared to much of Canada and the States and it’s best never to forget that.

How was the Riu? I’ve never been up that far.

T, if you are a student who has not decided on a career path, I hope that you will consider professional writing. I wish I could write so very well. There’s not one wasted word in your rather long but fascinating post.

Thank you again and all the best to you.

.

Leave a Response

required
.
always kept private
.
.
required
.
.

Most Popular

Arcata CA: Hippie Values Live
Arcata CA: Hippie Values Live

Humboldt County—location of Arcata CA--and adjacent Mendocino County together mark More

.
5 Places in Santa Fe to Breakfast with the Locals
5 Places in Santa Fe to Breakfast with the Locals

It’s said that breakfast is the most important meal of More

.
Munich: Quaint, Diverse, and Splendid
Munich: Quaint, Diverse, and Splendid

Famous for such delights as beer gardens, weisswurst, pretzels, and More

.
Top 7 South African Travel Myths Debunked
Top 7 South African Travel Myths Debunked

Two university professors I know, who escorted a group to More

.

Archives
sort by

.

Latest Posts

Wanderu User Guide

Wanderu offers a great new way to book inter-city bus and rail transportation. For the first time, Wanderu lets you More

.
Arcata CA: Hippie Values Live

Humboldt County—location of Arcata CA--and adjacent Mendocino County together mark the epicenter of illegal marijuana cultivation in the United States. More

.
A Mojave Airplane Graveyard Comes to Life - Fun Video

Among all the "practical" travel tips in this blog, thought it would be great to post this fun airplane video More

.
An Independent Shore Excursion That Almost Went Terribly Badly

Sometimes even horrific travel experiences can turn into fond memories. Such was my independent shore excursion at a cruise stop More

.
View the Archives
.
You might also enjoy...
Motorcycling and Hitchhiking in Laos
Motorcycling and Hitchhiking in Laos

A Travel Memoir of Self-Transformation through Movement My More

.
Losing Your Passport: Into the Abyss
Losing Your Passport: Into the Abyss

Life had not gone well for a high More

.
Top 7 South African Travel Myths Debunked
Top 7 South African Travel Myths Debunked

Two university professors I know, who escorted a More

.
A Mojave Airplane Graveyard Comes to Life - Fun Video
A Mojave Airplane Graveyard Comes to Life - Fun Video

Among all the "practical" travel tips in this More

.
.