The state of Sonora has been assessed as Level 3: Overall Crime and Safety Situation U. Consulate General Nogales does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report.
Crime Threats Although in the overall level of crime in Sonora showed a slight increase, crime levels in northern Sonora, where the Nogales Consular District is located, significantly decreased. This information has been corroborated by official statistics from the government of Mexico.
However, northern Sonora is without crime. Drug cartel-related narco-related violence continues to dominate as the motive behind many of the homicides and violent crimes in the Nogales district. The majority of cartel-related violence has occurred in other cities, such as Caborca, Altar, Agua Prieta, and Sonoyta, but not at the same level as in southern Sonora. Between and , some drug cartel in-fighting occurred throughout the consular district in areas like Agua Prieta and Caborca.
The consular district has not seen this level of violence since. Non-drug cartel related street crime armed robberies, assaults, burglaries, etc. In , petty theft and muggings not associated with DTOs occurred with similar frequency as past years, but with a slight decrease from No area of Nogales is immune from violent crimes. However, the area between El Periferico highway and Avenida Obregon is considered safer than the outlying suburban areas of the city.
The violent crimes that do occur in this area generally happen after dark. Travel throughout the city is only advised during daylight hours. Walking after dark in Nogales is not recommended. Most businesses close by hours. Bars and nightclubs provide a dangerous mix of guns, drugs, and cartel personnel and are not recommended.
There is also no evidence that criminal elements are specifically targeting U. Mexican laws prohibit ownership of personal firearms. The vast majority of firearms present in the consular district belong to Mexican law enforcement and military via legitimate means and narco-trafficking criminal elements via illegitimate means. The majority of narco-trafficking elements possess firearms of various magnitude, including assault rifles, grenades, and belt-fed machine guns.
However, the most common calibers of weapons used in narco-related crimes are 9mm pistols and 7. Residential burglaries in Nogales, to include in the more affluent neighborhoods, occur often and are most common during the day and on weekends or holidays when houses are vacant. Thieves often gain entry through unsecured entryways, by tricking domestic employees, or using force to access homes that appear to be vacant.
The theft of vehicles, carjackings, and theft of parts from parked vehicles are common crimes. Although since , vehicle thefts have drop, it remains the most prevalent crime in the Nogales consular district.
In the city of Nogales, there were reported vehicle thefts in This is a slight drop from over reported vehicle thefts in These vehicles are used extensively by DTOs for their ability to carry heavy loads at high speed across the difficult terrain.
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights. Local drivers are generally not very experienced and often have cars that are poorly maintained or in disrepair. Be alert for vehicles moving slower than the rest of the traffic, and for vehicles speeding through traffic signals at the last minute.
Poor lighting, unclear road makings, and signage contribute to hazardous driving conditions. Drivers should give a wide berth to public buses, which are not known for their safe driving practices. Pedestrians, to include small children, jaywalk often with disregard for personal safety. Travel on highways can be precarious, due to the safety and security situation, especially at night. Because many drivers may not have functioning headlights, and because after dark the probability of crime increases, travelers should avoid nighttime travel.
Drivers are encouraged to use inter-city toll highways whenever possible during daylight hours. Flash floods leave many vehicles stalled in the middle of streets and intersections.
Cars swept into deeper water is one of the most common dangers of the rainy season. During heavy rainstorms drivers should avoid driving and walking in flooded streets. Additionally, during the rainy season, flooding of residential areas and city streets can occur in all areas of the consular district.
Tecnologico is notorious for flooding. Due to the rapid onset of flash flooding, city emergency workers rarely place road closure signs. During each rainy season, large sinkholes have occurred throughout the city; bridges have washed out, and individuals have been trapped or injured by flash floods. Resulting road damage is not always quickly repaired leaving potholes that can damage your car, cause drivers to swerve into your lane, or brake unexpectedly.
Visitors should be wary when traveling roadways during the rainy season and pay attention to weather forecasts. Public Transportation Condition Public transportation services are not advised for use in the Nogales Consular District. This is based on the lack of viable security vetting and the depth of narco-trafficking influence over the taxis. Taxi-like services such as Uber do exist in Nogales. However, the same security and safety concerns exist with those services as with the traditional taxis.
Department of State has assessed Nogales as being a LOW-threat location for terrorist activity directed at or affecting official U. Civil Unrest Over the past several years, there have been several peaceful demonstrations in the Nogales area, taking place at or near the Deconcini Port of Entry or the fiscal corridor heading to the Mariposa Port of Entry.
These demonstrations are generally orderly, peaceful, and comply with the police. On several occasions, the protestors interfered with the flow of traffic into Mexico, prompting authorities in the U. In one case, the protests at the DeConcini border crossing turned violent and clashed with police. Police quelled the situations and restored order within hours, with no loss of life or serious injuries.
Post-specific Concerns Environmental Hazards During the rainy season July-September , flooding of residential areas and city streets can occur in all areas of the consular district. Critical Infrastructure Given the large number of corporations and manufacturing plants in Nogales, mishandling of hazardous materials is a viable possibility. Although there have been no reported incidents between , it remains a potential that the local government and the private sector monitor closely.
In June , the cities of Nogales, Arizona, and Sonora practiced a joint citywide hazardous material response drill. Privacy Concerns Given the reported rise in hacking and violations to cyber security globally, Nogales falls well below the global average for privacy violations and cyber intrusions.
Drug-related Crimes In , military personnel began counter-drug cartel operations along the smuggling routes of both Mexican coasts. Accordingly, the routes out of Mexico and into the U. As a result, drug cartel-related violence in Nogales increased exponentially in as the Sinaloa cartel and the remnants of the Beltran Leyva cartel fought for drug routes.
While nearly all the violence has been between warring cartels, there have been innocent people caught in the crossfire. According to media reports, in , there was an increase in violence in Nogales and 74 murders. However, saw a noted decrease of 51 media-reported homicides. Kidnapping Threat Kidnapping for ransom is an established criminal activity in Mexico. Over the past few years, cartel-related kidnappings have occurred in Nogales and throughout the state of Sonora.
Victims of these kidnappings include U. Overall, the number of kidnapping in Nogales and Sonora is very small compared to other cities in Mexico. In , Nogales police reported 12 kidnappings.
It was later discovered that all 12 were narco-on-narco related. In , that number rose to 24, with the same narco-on-narco parameters. The rise was attributed to a change in DTO tactics from shooting targeted victims in the populated city areas, to kidnapping the victim first and taking them to more remote locations before killing them. In Mexico, express kidnappings are a common type of abduction and are based on the hour withdrawal limit placed on ATM cards industry-wide. The victim is generally held for hours and is forced to withdraw funds from a series of ATMs.
The term "express kidnapping" is also applied to the kidnapping for ransom of 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. Although common in other parts of Mexico, there were no reports of express kidnappings in Nogales in , , or A degree of narco-trafficking influence and complicity to criminal activity does affect police forces throughout Mexico.
With the exclusion of several special units, Mexican law enforcement, especially at the local levels, is still developing professionally in comparison with U. Many police are eager to serve, but they do not have the training and equipment to carry out their duties effectively. In addition, given that many of the local police grew up and live in the area with their families, they commonly acquiesce to threats of narco-trafficking violence.
With low morale, poor pay, and narco-trafficking threats, local police typically have an overall negative perception with the populace in and with visitors to Sonora.
The high number of arrests and the low rate of criminal convictions also contribute to low police morale. For the most part, law enforcement agencies in Sonora have been responsive to the U. In May , the Consulate received credible information concerning threats made by the local cartel plaza leader to Americans traveling in Nogales or surrounding areas.
Additionally in May , the Consulate received credible information concerning threats against its employees made by the local cartel and a few municipal police officers. The Consulate worked with local authorities to investigate and prevent such actions. Neither , , nor saw any threats directed at Consulate personnel or the U. However, in , Sonora began a major change to its criminal justice system. Mexican courts are in the process of switching from the written correspondence-based system to the much faster U.
Sonora was the last state in Mexico to transition to this new judicial system. S Consulate General Nogales if they encounter problems with police. There have not been any reports of police grafting against tourists in the Nogales Consular District since