LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Recent news of violence in Mexico has been in the headlines, most recently a gruesome murder of nine women and children that happened weeks ago.
The family was ambushed by a heavily armed group while traveling from the town of Bavispe in Sonora state to Galeana in Chihuahua state.
A few weeks before that, the attempted capture of El Chapo’s son touched off deadly violence in Culiacan in Sinaloa Cartel territory.
But those incidents happened in more isolated areas.
And most tourists tend to visit destinations like Mexico City and coastal resorts, like Cozumel and Cancun.
Eyewitness News spoke with a travel agent and security expert to get their perspective on what tourists should know if they’re planning a trip to Mexico.
Caroline Reinhard-Chacon is the owner and manager at Travel Leaders in Montebello.
She commented on the recent incidents that have been in the news.
“It overall adds that perception that Mexico isn’t a safe place to visit even though the violence is in very isolated areas, in contained areas,” she said.
Homicide rates in Mexico have increased by 36% since 2015, reaching an all-time high. The U.S. State Department is warning tourists not to travel to the states of Tamaulipas, Sinaloa, Michoacan, Colima and Guerrero.
“If you’re afraid, you shouldn’t go, it’s your vacation. It’s your money. But those people who do go have a great time and do feel safe,” Reinhard-Chacon said.
She adds that the most popular tourist cities in Mexico are generally safe.
“But if you go to beach destinations and you exercise caution, you use your common sense, I think you could have a wonderful time in Mexico,” Reinhard-Chacon said.
According to Mexican government’s data, the number of tourists increased 78% between 2010 and 2018.
Eyewitness News spoke with former Los Angeles County Sheriff and ABC7 law enforcement analyst, Jim McDonnell.
“It’s worthwhile considering certainly, anytime you plan on going anywhere, do your homework ahead of time,” McDonnell said. “Because when we say Mexico, well Mexico is a big country. There are parts of it that are very safe, and there are parts of it that are not safe at all.”
McDonnell recommends visiting the U.S. State Department’s website, and practicing situational awareness.
“Not being conspicuous, not standing out. Not wearing conspicuous, expensive jewelry. Those kinds of things make you a target,” he explained.
McDonnell advises: the more planning, the better.
“Educate yourself before you go there, and as best you can, prepare yourself for the worst,” McDonnell said. “And hope for the best.”