The Segmental Info System

Crime in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean

Crime occurs everywhere but when traveling in the Mexican Caribbean common sense goes a long way

Photo credit: © Lawrence Weslowski Jr |
Crime in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean

Criminal activity in the Cancún area is comparable to any large city in the United States. A visitor should feel as safe in Cancún as in New York City, Chicago, or Miami.

Visitors who keep to the main tourist areas enjoy the benefits of additional police protection, generally by English-speaking policemen specially trained to handle tourists and their needs. However, crime is a problem throughout Mexico. Low apprehension and conviction rates of criminals contribute to high crime rates, especially outside of most busy tourist areas.

Auto theft, mugging, and drug trafficking are the most common forms of crime reported in the area, so stay alert, lock your car, and use the security features available in your vehicle and hotel. Nighttime muggings on certain beaches have been reported from time to time, so confine your moonlit walks on the beach to the fenced-in and guarded areas around some of the major hotels. One of the most common offenses reported in Cancún is the drugging of drinks in clubs. Never let your drink out of your sight, and never accept drinks from strangers.

Be very aware and cautious when using ATMs. It is best to use them only during business hours and only at large protected facilities. Both Mexican and non-Mexican citizens have been accosted on the street and forced to withdraw money from their accounts using their ATM cards.

Unlike most locations, the countryside and undeveloped areas of the Mexican Caribbean can be more dangerous than Cancún. Stay away from dark, isolated areas and don't walk alone on trails, ruins, or lightly frequented beaches, regardless of the time of day or night. Do not carry a large number of parcels, and do not wear expensive jewelry as you stroll through the streets. Criminal assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico, so exercise extreme caution whenever traveling. Try to travel roads that are outside of the major cities only in the daylight, and use only first class public transportation. There have been many instances of entire buses being pulled over and robbed in the countryside. Kidnapping also continues at a fairly high rate.

United States citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" for ways to ensure a safe journey. This publication and others, such as "Tips for Travelers to the Caribbean," are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents at the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C., 20402 and online at, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs at


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