Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and with good reason.
But not all parts of Mexico are safe for travelers. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 11 most dangerous cities in Mexico in 2023.
Suggested: Is it safe to visit Mexico now? (Complete guide)
Tijuana is considered the most dangerous city in Mexico due to its high rate of homicides and drug-related violence.
The homicide rate is 138 per 100,000 people. As the main entry point for drugs coming from South America, Tijuana is a hotbed of cartel activity. Being close to the border with the United States, it is also a major center for human trafficking and organized crime.
Tijuana is also considered the most dangerous city in the world, according to homicide rate stats.
While many tourists still flock to Acapulco for its beaches, it is also one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico. The city’s homicide rate is 111 per 100,000 people. Acapulco has seen a sharp rise in drug-related violence as various cartels battle for control of the city’s lucrative drug trade. This city is also situated inside of Guerrero, the infamous state known for its high levels of violence, turmoil due to turf wars between gangs, and for its production of heroin.
Located in Tamaulipas state, Ciudad Victoria is one of the most violent cities in Mexico. The homicide rate here stands at 86 per 100,000 people and it is another hot spot for drug-related violence. It is also an entryway city, with Tamaulipas sitting just beyond the U.S. border. Members of the Northeast Cartel actively run their operations in Ciudad Victoria.
Another border city, residents of El Paso can see Ciudad Juarez from their side of the Rio Grande. It is one of the most violent cities in Mexico, with a homicide rate of 86 per 100,000 people. The city is another hotbed for drug trafficking and has seen a sharp rise in violence due to turf wars between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels. Both of these powerful cartels have a strong presence in Ciudad Juarez.
Irapuato is located in the central state of Guanajuato, and in the past three years has seen a sharp increase in homicides due to drug-related violence. The city has a homicide rate of 81 per 100,000 people, making it one of the most unsafe cities for tourists and, unfortunately, locals that call this city home. Murders here are largely attributed to turf wars between the Jalisco Cartel New Generation and the Santa Rosa de Lima Cartel.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has recently warned tourists about the dangers of visiting Cancun after a string of cartel-related shootings, robberies, and attacks on tourists in the city. The homicide rate here is 64 per 100,000 people, making it far less deadly than other cities in Mexico, but still notorious for its high levels of violence.
While Culiacan was once seen as a mid to low-level dangerous city, it is now the site of a deadly battle that occurred due to the arrest of cartel leader El Chapo’s son, Ovidio Guzman. The city has a homicide rate of 61 per 100,000 people and is considered the central city in Sinaloa. The Sinaloa Cartel has a firm grip on the city and its residents, making it incredibly dangerous for tourists to visit.
In Urupan, violence has steadily increased for this mountainside city in Michoacan. Sadly, it seems as though the violence here only continues to escalate. The once quiet town is now home to battling cartels that consistently change hands and names. Killings occur in the most indiscreet areas, such as arcades and bars. The current homicide rate here is 55 per 100,000 residents.
Cuidad Obregon is the second largest city in Sonora, but now has a new notoriety – being named the fourth most dangerous city in the world in 2022. This rise in violence is not just in Ciudad Obredon, but in the surrounding area of Cajame, the state’s southernmost region. Only time will tell if this steep increase in crime will continue to hold. Its current homicide rate is 52 per 100,000 residents.
With a homicide rate of 48 per 100,000 residents, Coatzacoalcos was once a vibrant tourist spot in Veracruz. Today, it is the sight of violence where recently nine bodies were left on the street. Murder, robbery, and violent crime make this city one of the top ten most dangerous in Mexico.
The accounts state that over 1000 people were brutally murdered each year. The rise in drug sales, thefts, and human trafficking were all noted, so the story doesn’t end here. It is unsafe to spend your holiday in Celaya.
Currently, Celaya is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, with 109.38 killings per 100,000 residents.
Only other parts of Mexico, 1,400 miles away, have official U.S. State Department travel warnings or restrictions.
According to residents and press reports, violence has increased. However, tourism and locals have not been affected by this unrest.
In the last months, the number of violent murders in Ensenada and Tijuana has increased, mostly at night and outside the city center. The city center is still very safe, although there are some risks in the ungated neighborhoods further out. Day trips or travel through the Vine Valley are not affected by this shift.