15 Most Dangerous Cities in Mexico in 2023, According to Data
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 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 Uruapan, 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.
Tepic is not a tourist town. That doesn’t mean tourists aren’t welcome. The main urban center of this thriving agricultural region is Tepic, where sugar cane, tobacco, and citrus fruits are among the most important crops. The town, originally known as Villa del Espíritu Santo de la Mayor España, was founded in 1531.
Rated 36th last year among world cities by homicide rate, Tepic, Mexico had a murder rate of 45 per 100,000 population.
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 45
• Homicides in 2018: 230
That is more than twice Chicago’s homicide rate (Which was 24 in 2017, and decreased significantly in 2018 to around 20)
According to the US State Department travelers should avoid Tepic and San Blas. Please visit the US State Department website for up-to-date advice on travel safety in Nayarit.
Situated directly across the Rio Grande from the United States border, Reynosa stands as a significant urban center. Regrettably, it has earned a reputation as one of Mexico’s perilous cities due to persistent clashes involving criminal gangs. Given the prevailing security concerns, traveling to this region is strongly discouraged.
Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize that beneath its challenging image, Reynosa serves as a vital industrial hub for Northern Tamaulipas and the Rio Grande Valley. The city contributes substantially to the economic landscape of the area, driving various industrial activities and serving as a crucial link in cross-border trade and commerce. Despite the ongoing security issues, Reynosa’s role in fostering economic development and connectivity within this part of Mexico remains noteworthy.
As per guidance from the U.S. State Department, it is advisable for travelers to “Reconsider Travel” to Chihuahua due to concerns regarding crime and kidnapping. Violent crime and gang-related activities occur frequently in the region. While a majority of the murders are targeted assassinations within criminal organizations, caution should still be exercised by all travelers.
Over the past 12 years, drug violence has increased significantly in northern Mexico, particularly in Chihuahua. While Chihuahua is comparatively safer than other cities in the region, it continues to struggle with cartel violence. It is important to note that most murders are directed against drug traffickers and their families, while tourists are rarely victims of violent crime. Military checkpoints may be established in the city and its surroundings, and compliance with them is mandatory.
Overall Risk: High
Crime and violence rates in Chihuahua remain high. Although most tourists are protected by a strong police presence, it is advisable to exercise a higher level of vigilance than usual when visiting this region.