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How safe is Mexicali … and Mexico?

Seized narco-money

Seized narco-money

This post is prompted by a comment sent in by one of our readers. He is coming to Mexicali on business, and wonders if he will be safe.

That’s a very fair question. My short answer is “yes.”

Jim and I could only afford to move to a border town. The trip deeper into Mexico was well beyond our means. Mexicali, where we live, is a border town, and our house is just 176 feet south of the big steel fence which divides Mexico from the U.S.

Before moving to Mexicali, we checked out some other towns, either on the border, or nearby. Going from east to west, these included Agua Prieta, Naco, Nogales, Sonoita, Mexicali, and Rosarito Beach.

In Agua Prieta, near Douglas, Arizona, we did not see any suitable places to live. We stayed in the Hacienda Motel. As soon as night fell, large black SUVs filled up the parking lot. There was a lot of noisy coming and going, with the headlights flashing into our room, and voices talking in Spanish. At one point Jim actually stepped out (in his boxer shorts) to take a look. When he came back into the room, he said, “Great rims on those SUVs, yup.” Later, around midnight we heard gunshots and sirens – went on for some time. By dawn, everything stopped – the SUVs were gone, and you wouldn’t notice anything strange about the Hacienda Motel – except that everyone there avoided eye contact.

To the east of Agua Prieta, Naco and Sonoita had only very small towns across the border in the U.S.

The Pacific coast towns, such as Rosarito Beach, have beautiful Southern California weather in the summer, and are bit milder than Mexicali in the winter. Rosarito Beach was a bit congested and touristy. In addition, a motorcycle cop stopped us, saying we went through a stop sign – which we didn’t. We had to settle up with an eighty buck bribe with that guy.

THEN, on the way back to San Diego, going through Tijuana, the police had sealed off the ramp that leads up to the U.S. border checkpoint. We had to circle all through Tijuana to get back to the ramp again, and it was still sealed off with yellow tape. Jim pulled over to ask the police what was going on. Immediately, the policeman said, “No seat belt – that’s a fine – you will have to follow me to the police station.” Jim said that he had taken off the seat belt only after we came to a full stop.

The officer repeated, “Follow me to the station.”

At this point, Jim, by now an old pro at bribery, said, “OK, Sir, what’ll it take to pay the fine now?”

“One hundred dollars.”

“OK,” said Jim, and for that, can you remove the tape so I can go up the ramp and get back to the States?”

“Sure.”

Jim took two fifties from his wallet and handed them to the officer, who, without saying a word, walked over to the ramp and removed the tape. We were back on our way to the States, and Jim didn’t start cussing until we were in San Diego.

For us, Mexicali turned out to be the best. Across the border is Calexico, a small town, but with all the shopping, and support (such as flu shots) that you could want. The downside to Mexicali is the weather. It is blistering hot in summer and a little cool in the winter.

From what we understand, there is a turf war between drug cartels going on in Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, and even down to Ensenada. We understand the turf war was caused by the arrest of some leading members of the Arellano Felix gang who controlled the area. Now, another gang is attempting to move into the vacuum, and take over the territory. Jim and I would not feel safe in Rosarito Beach or Tijuana.

Tijuana has a very long border fence, which is probably a help for illegal crossings into the U.S.

Mexicali, on the other hand, has a short border fence – only a couple of miles long – and easy to monitor.

On the other side of the border fence from us, there is constant patrolling by the U.S. Border Patrol cars, helicopters (we hear them everyday), and aircraft. Things are very calm in Mexicali, and we feel completely safe. I don’t think we look worth kidnapping.

We lived for a while in Phoenix, Arizona, which now has the distinction of being the kidnapping capital of the U.S., with one kidnapping reported every day – and how many go unreported?

Miss Sinaloa 2008

Miss Sinaloa 2008

The main center of the drug trade is not at the border, as some might think, but in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, where “El Chapo” rules. The beauty queen, Miss Sinaloa 2008, Laura Zuniga 23, and her boyfriend were arrested on Dec. 23rd at a checkpoint outside of Guadalajara. Miss Sinaloa was riding in one of two trucks, where soldiers found a large stash of weapons, including two AR-15 assault rifles, 38 specials, 9mm handguns, nine magazines, 633 cartridges and $53,300 in U.S. currency.

Allegedly, Miss Sinaloa claimed that the cash was for her shopping. Small change for the drug cartels, which bring in a total of $53 billion a year, and who can afford to pay top Mexican Government officials $500,000 a month for information.

The Sinaloa Cartel is the one of the largest drug trafficking cartels in Mexico. The cartel’s leader, “El Chapo” is one of Mexico’s most wanted criminals. The U.S. has a $5 million reward for his capture – but no one is interested. Many of El Chapo’s “soldiers” were trained in advance weaponry by the U.S. Army – in an attempt to beef up the Mexican army. Why stay in the Mexican army, when you can work for El Chapo? The pay is a lot better – some say ten times better.

Many Mexicans, however, idolize the drug lords. There are songs written about them, and colorful names, such as The Queen of the Pacific, The Empress, and, of course,  El Chapo (shorty).

Sinaloa has a beautiful coastline, and Mazatlan, which is in Sinaloa, is a favored spot where American retirees live and play golf. Jim and I would never set foot in Mazatlan or Sinaloa.

Mexicali is peaceful place, with a lot of police trucks patrolling around. Many of the cars have California license plates, and you can pay in dollars as well as in pesos.

So long as Jim and I stay out of the turf wars, we are going to be A-OK in Mexicali.

Here is something you should take note of, however, regarding bringing guns into Mexico. The rules are very strict.

The Mexican constitution allows for possession of one small-caliber firearm, however, the owner must be a Mexican citizen (foreigners, even those with legal residency status, are not entitled to this privilege).

The weapon must of small caliber as specifically cited by regulations,be registered with the army and, critically, the and not be  carried in the street.

The purpose of the law is to provide for self-defense within the confine of one’s own home.

Jim suggest you get a cross-bow. His choice is the 80 Lbs Self-cocking Crossbow Pistol Cross Bow 15 Arrows that sells for under 30 bucks on Amazon. “Just click that there link, and you’ll have something much better than some tiny pistol,” says Jim.

 

Update: February 22, 2014:

El Chapo captured in Mazatlan!

El Chapo

El Chapo arrives in Mexico City, after arrest

A senior US law enforcement official said Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was taken alive overnight in the Mexican beach resort town of Mazatlan. “We’ve been actively tracking him for five weeks. “Because of that pressure, he fled in the last couple of days to Mazatlan. He had a small contingent with him.”

Guzman was found naked in bed with an AK-47 nearby, which he didn’t get a chance to grab. The raid was so fast his bodyguards didn’t even have a chance to react, the source said.

Saturday’s arrest followed some near-misses in attempts to capture Guzman during the last three weeks.

Mexican authorities missed taking him “within seconds” at a condominium in Mexico 10 days ago, the source said. Guzman escaped through an elaborate tunnel under a bathtub, leaving behind his personal handgun, which authorities confiscated.

Guzman, 56, faces multiple federal drug trafficking indictments in the US and is on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s most-wanted list.

His drug empire stretches throughout North America and reaches as far away as Europe and Australia.

In more than a decade on the run, Guzman rose from a middling Mexican narco to the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.

His fortune is estimated to more than a billion dollars, according to Forbes magazine, which listed him among the World’s Most Powerful People and ranked him above the presidents of France and Venezuela.

Update: February 27, 2014:

Hundreds of Mexicans are marching in support of drug kingpin and fold hero Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.

Chanting slogans in English such as “I love Chapo,” the demonstrators demanded his freedom during marches Wednesday evening in three cities in Sinaloa, the state that was the birthplace of Guzman’s vast multibillion-dollar drug empire.

Guzman was Mexico’s most-wanted fugitive and one of the largest drug traffickers in the world. His capture was seen as an important victory for the Mexican government in its long drug war, although few experts believe it will have a any effect on the $50 billion annual flow of drugs to the United States. (Yes, that’s $50 billion that is flowing into Mexico from the U.S—all for drugs.)

Many of the marchers had apparently been bused in and given free T-shirts and other gifts. Who is paying for all of this?

In the eyes of many people Guzman remained one of the old-style drug lords who showering local communities with benefits: money, business, gifts.

The United States continues to press for the extradition of Guzman, which Mexico opposes. Mexico wants El Chapo in Mexico.

As Jim says, “Shucks. It’ ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

El Chapo – Dying for the Truth: Undercover Inside the Mexican Drug War by the Fugitive Reporters of Blog del Narco

El Chapo's gun

El Chapo’s gun

The day he was captured on February 22, Mexican drug lord El Chapo Guzman was carrying a semi-automatic Colt 45, embedded with gold and diamonds. The gun is valued at $ 303,000. The hammer, trigger and safety are gold and the handle is inlaid with black diamonds. On the handle is a plaque inscribed with “701 billionaire Forbes,” referring to El Chapo’s position on the Forbes list with an estimated billion dollar fortune

At the time of his arrest, El Chapo was up early, cooking breakfast for his wife.

Update: April 30, 2014

The is a great article in the New Yorker about El Chapo’s capture.

It raises the question—was it really El Chapo who was captured.

From the New Yorker:

Several years ago, a fearless journalist named Anabel Hernández published a book about the Sinaloa cartel, called “Los Señores del Narco.” (It was recently published in English, under the title “Narcoland.”) Hernández argued that Guzmán’s influence was so pervasive, and the Mexican political system so thoroughly rotted by graft, that the whole Chapo saga could be interpreted as a grand charade. Guzmán was “imprisoned” at Puente Grande, but he was actually running the place. He “escaped,” when in reality, Hernández suggests, the President of Mexico at the time, Vicente Fox, personally authorized his release, in exchange for a colossal bribe. (Fox has angrily denied this accusation.) Guzmán spent years as a “fugitive,” though everyone knew where he was, and the authorities were simply lying when they claimed that they “could not catch him.” Hernández’s book sold more than a hundred thousand copies in Mexico.

She is not convinced that the man who was photographed in Mazatlán, and whose DNA was tested, is the real Chapo.

When Guzmán was questioned in prison by authorities, he, too, seemed to suggest a case of mistaken identity. He maintained his innocence, his rote replies taking on a smug absurdity:

Q: May the deponent say to which organization he belongs.

A: I don’t belong to any cartel. . . . I am a farmer.

How the drug lords live—here are some photos:

Nice Drug Lord Home

Nice Drug Lord Home – Visitors approaching

 

Drug Lord Home

Nice inside, too…

drug lord with his money

A drug lord with his money…

Drug Lord gun

Some Drug Lord guns to protect the money…

Drug Lord guns for his staff

Drug Lord guns for his staff…


Update, June 22, 2014 – Mexico’s top ten most dangerous cities:

From Mexican President Pena Nieto’s inauguration in December 2012 to the end of January this year, Mexico has had 23,640 murders, nationwide.

Here’s a list of Mexico’s top ten murderous cities for 2013:

1. Acapulco, Guerrero

This Pacific resort city has had 883 homicides in 2013 to 883. Acapulco, a vacation spot for unwary Ameracans, is the most dangerous city in Mexico.

2. Mexico City

Mexico’s capital and largest city had 753 homicides in 2013.

3. Tijuana, Baja California

This border city has had 564 murders in 2013.

4. Culiacan, Sinaloa

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s town had 479 homicides in 2013.

5. Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua

This border town had 453 murders in 2013.

6. Ecatepec, Estado de Mexico

This Mexico City suburb had 312 killings in 2013.

7. Guadalajara, Jalisco

Mexico’s second largest city had 297 murders in 2013.

8. Monterrey, Nuevo Leon

Monterrey had 266 murders in 2013.

9. Zapopan, Jalisco

Zapopan had 258 murders in 2013.

10. Chihuahua, Chihuahua

The capital of Chihuahua had 251 murders in 2013.

 

106 comments to How safe is Mexicali … and Mexico?

  • First off, if you are going on any “lonely” roads, like Mexicali to San Felipe – drive only during the day. You do not want to be on those roads at night. Obviously, do not pick up hitchhikers. That said, I believe the road to San Felipe is fairly safe – but not as safe as well-traveled roads. And, yes, I do know someone who could retrieve your dune buggy and bring it across the border. I’ll ask him and let you know off line.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • aleigh

    Any advice for a single female traveling in a cab over camper? I was in San Filipe in Nov. and didn’t have any problems, but after hearing all the violence, I’m scared to go back. I bought a dune buggy there and want to bring it back.
    Do you happen to know anyone who would pick up buggy and bring to Mexacali or better yet, across the border? Thanks!

  • Carli:
    In Mexicali, I would recommend being in the north part, close to the border. It is, I think, the best part of Mexicali, and it will save your battling traffic further into the town. We live in an area called Colonia Hipico, and our house is 176 feet from the (ugly) border fence. If you get what is called a “Sentri” pass, which costs under $200 for five years, you will be able to cross into Calexico in about ten minutes. The website for this is https://goes-app.cbp.dhs.gov
    They may hire US-trained nurses in Mexicali, but you will make a lot more by working in the US, I would think.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Carli

    Hi MaryAnn,
    I was thinking about moving to Mexicali. What area do you recommend? I am an RN and I was thinking about working on the US side of the border. Are there any rules regarding living in Mexicali and working in the US? You mentioned it taking 1.5 hours to cross the border, is this at all times of the day? Do they have any type of pass or system for people who cross the border daily? Also, do you know if they hire US trained nurses in Mexicali?
    Thanks,
    Carli

  • Pam

    Your blog is great. We live in Palm Springs and my son is in emergency need of a root canal. He’s been out of work for several years and his unemployment has ran out, so he has no money. Many of our friends suggested that I take him to Mexicalli. Some people warned us that few people there speak English. We speak little to no Spanish. My son is in constant pain and we have to get this done quickly. I was told that a root canal should cost around $300. in Mexicali. I think we can scrape together that much. My son has a passport but I don’t. Will they accept a birth certificate for me, when I come back into the US? Thank you for any help you can offer. Again, your site is amazing and soooo much help to people.

  • I am not familiar with Dr. Abril. However, I trust Mexican doctors a lot more than US doctors. I had an extremely difficult spine operation, here in Mexicali. It was for the draining to a Tarlov cyst, a very rare condition, and difficult, as the cyst is in the spinal nerve bundles. My operation was a complete success. In the US this operation costs from one to two hundred thousand dollars (mine cost a small fraction of that), and is rarely successful. My Mexicali doctor told me to stay in bed for four weeks after the operation to avoid the growth of painful scar tissue. In America, they dope the people up with Vicodin and let them run around immediately after the operation. This way, the US doctor gets to do a second operation to make even more money. Plus the patient is addicted to Vicodin and has to return frequently to the doctor for a prescription, which I call a fix. My Tarlov cyst was clearly visible on my MRI done in the US – but the neither the MRI people, nor Dr. Rubin told me about it. Here in Mexicali, the MRI technician spotted it immediately. I think you should rely on Mexicali doctors. My results have been great, and Mexicali is a very safe city. You can read more about my medical experiences here by going to my website and searching on “Tarlov.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • melanie

    I am thinking about going to Dr. Abril for weight loss surgery in Mexicali vs. surgeons practicing in Tj or Juarez. Have you heard anything about this Dr.? Would you trust mexican drs. for Weight loss surgery in Mexico?

  • Heidi:
    Thanks for the kind remarks. We don’t know about Dr. Luque. My medical situation was different requiring back surgery. With Dr. Carlos Maya, I have had the best outcome from Tarlov cyst surgery that I am aware of. You should be as safe in Mexicali as you are in the US. You will note that, in Mexicali, most of the automobiles have California license plates. It is truly an international city.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Heidi

    Maryann:

    I am coming to Mexacali in December for plastic surgery with a plastic surgeon named Dr Luque. I havent found much about him on the website here in the US. Have you heard of him or anything about him there. I have seen some of his work and I have been impressed. The only thing scaring me is I recently saw a blog from a young lady begging people not to go to him because he butchered her. Several other women have been very impressed with his work. I stumbled upon your website and I appreciate and respect your honesty. I feel safe about going to Mexacali now, thanks to your website, now I just wish I could feel more confident about my doctor. Please advise if you know anything about Dr Luque or know of anyone that has had plastic surgery done by him. I cant tell you how much I appreciate what you are doing for people. Thank you for your honesty and thank you for taking your time to talk with all of us about your country.

  • Glad we have been of help. You could live in Mexicali and work in Calexico or surroundings. Thousands do it on a daily basis. It is faster to walk across the border than to drive, unless you have a Sentri pass (easy to get), which lets you speed right through. There are plenty of rentals in Mexicali, not far from the border at a third of what you would pay in the US. Being close to the border is 1) a good safe area, and 2) you won’t have a long drive to the checkpoint.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • rebecca

    hi maryann,
    your words have helped me i want to relocate to mexicali but find a job in the us. do you think that’s possible. would it be faster to walk across

  • Morgan:
    You will be better off crossing at Mexicali (or beyond to the east) as it will save you a trip over the mountains from Tijuana through Mexicali and on to Puerto Escondido.
    Going through Palm Springs, etc. will save you mountain driving.
    Once across the border at Mexicali take Adolfo Lopez Mateos to hook up with the road to San Luis Rio Colorado (link below). You will have to turn off and take a smaller road going
    south before reaching San Luis. The roads are visible on the map.
    Or, perhaps easier and with better roads, take the 8 to Gila Bend, AZ – then go south on 85 to Sonoita Mexico, an easy crossing. From Sonoita to Hermisillo to Mazatlan, and on down.
    Thanks for the kind words,
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Mexicali,+Baja+California+peninsula,+Mexico&ll=32.601205,-115.43026&spn=0.146928,0.357399&z=12

  • Morgan S.

    Hi Maryann,

    So far this appears to be the most informative blog about travel in Mexico, thanks! I’m planning a road trip with a friend of mine from San Francisco down the pacific coast to Puerto Escondido. Do you think this is wise at all, and should we enter from mexicali instead of tijuana? If we do enter this way, do you have travel tips, routes, websites or any other resources to share?

    Thanks so much!

  • Wynn Bloch

    I have been referred to a dentist named Dr Herrara (not sure of the spelling). Does anyone know if he has a website ?
    Thank you so much.

  • dan b.

    Hi,

    I really appreciated your words of wisdom on here… making a trip down soon.

  • Yes, maybe we were “had.” Usually, you are right, they ditch you when you are following the police to jail, or so we here from our Mexicali friends. The time we did pay $80 we followed the policeman all the way to the police HQ. That was in Rosarito Beach. We don’t recommend that anyone go to Rosarito Beach, Tijuana, or even Ensenada (because you have to pass through the bad places to get there).
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Vic

    I’ve heard good things about a Dentist by the last name of Ng (Vietnamese?) Not sure if it’s on Internacional (the border street), Madero, or Reforma. It’s somewhere around there. Avoid Miguel Ruiz by at all costs! He’s on Justo Sierra next to the Lucerna parking lot. Milked us for years and did nothing for my wife. Same thing with my sister-in-law. Another guy to avoid is Venegas. If you have insurance or med-cal Dr. Ghoreyshi in Calexico is the best I’ve seen. He’s on third and Heber.

  • Vic

    $80 buck bribe!!!!! God, you were had. You could have told him you prefered to go to the station. They won’t stick you in jail for God’s sake. You could have gotten away with $10!! Often, they don’t want to bother with you following them to the station and would rather just let you go. What they do is have you follow them one or two blocks and then signal to you that they have another call, turn on their siren, and go on their way.

  • DDonnell:
    I have no idea where the Mexicali police station is located. This is information that would be of doubtful help in a case such as yours.
    Your experience with the police sounds a lot more like Tijuana than Mexicali, but I guess it happens. When you get stopped, you can always ask the police to escort you to the police station. A friend of mine did this, and after following the police truck for a while, had the police veer off and drive away. That might be a good strategy.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Vicki:
    We get a lot of requests to recommend doctors. I recommend only the doctors that I have used. That said, there are a lot of plastic surgeons in Mexicali. I am sure there are some very good ones. Most of the good doctors are pretty close to the Calexico border crossing, but to the east along Obregan and Madero. You might take a look. The health care in Mexico is far superior to that of the U.S., and affordable. Should I hear of anyone, I’ll let you know.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • DDonnell

    Hi, I wanted to see if anyone knows where the police stations are/what their addresses are. My family and I were hustled for no reason on our last visit for the simple reason that we didn’t know where the police station was. The cop pulled us over for speeding, even though we were in the slow lane, going the SAME speed as everyone else, probably because we are gringos in the only new Ford F-350 in town. The cop immediately asked us for our ID’s and then asked if we knew where the station was. We obviously did not, so he gave us bogus directions to a dead end construction zone. He told us to stop, turn off the car and to step outside. He told us $125 for the ticket, in which we simply said no, without hesitation. We ended up talking him down to $55, but to be on the safe side and to save us from any unneeded stress or loss of money to the needy Mexican gov’t officials, can somebody please provide the address to the police stations.
    Thanks,
    Davis

  • VICKI KIRNBERGER

    Mary Ann,

    I am looking for a plastic surgeon that does the same procedure as Life Style Lift here in the U.S. This procedure is a mini face lift which only takes one hour with recovery time less than one week. Please e-mail me with information, if any, there in Mexacali. I was referred to you by Tino who has had dental work done there.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Thanks
    Vicki

  • Michele: You don’t need a US passport to get into Mexico, but to get back into the United States, you DO need a passport. I would apply immediately, if you want to come to Mexico for your dental work.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Michele

    MaryAnn: Thank you for sharing such great info about your experiences. I need dental work immediately and don’t have a passport; I have my driver’s license and US birth cert. What is your understanding on crossing back into the US with only those documents? It didn’t use to be a problem. How about now? Thanks. And God Bless you!
    Michele

  • Cheri:
    We have been to Naco on our search for the best border town to move to. It’s a very small place, and I’m not aware of any dentists there, although there may be one. Being in Bisbee, AZ, a better bet would be to look in either Nogales, or Aqua Prieta, much larger places than Naco. About the only way I can think of to find a dentist in either place would be to drive there and look around.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Cheri

    Hello. I am relocating to Bisbee AZ and interested in finding a dentist in Naco Mexico. How do I go about finidng a good one?
    Thank you.
    Cheri

  • Mike: Thanks.
    We drove down to San Felipe, and lived to write about it in our blog. We even came back when it was pitch dark. The only rule to follow is DON’T STOP TO HELP ANYBODY. I guess that would hold for the US, as well.
    The short answer is – it’s safe.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Mike

    MaryAnn, just stumbled upon your website, what a great site with so much information. I’m considering driving through Mexicali down to San Felipe. I’m assuming it’s absolutely safe but others are saying no, in light of the news reports about drug related violence. What do you think?

    Thanks!
    Mike

  • Wayne: Crossing back into the US from Mexico, you need you passport and a lot of patience. Usually there is a long line of people and the wait is most often 1 1/2 hours.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Wayne

    Thank you MaryAnn!

    No intention of going deeper. Just going to the Industrial Park. Can I expect the same experience crossing the border back into the States?

    Best wishes & take care
    Wayne

  • Wayne – you are in for a big surprise. Most likely nothing will happen when you cross the border into Mexicali. At the very most, they may stop you to open your trunk, but that is very rare – happened to us 2 times in 1 1/2 years. Insurance credentials, tourist cards will not be asked for – even expired plates are OK – and we just entered behind a guy who had NO PLATES. If you go deeper into Mexico, there are check points where they may ask for some info, but there is nothing like that in Baja California that I know of.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Wayne

    Hello MaryAnn,

    Within the next few weeks, I will be visiting a customer in Mexicali. Having never been to Mexicali or having driven across the border; what can I expect and what do you recommend? I hear varied reports regarding driving across; issues with proper insurance, credentials, and tourist cards. What is your experience?

    Thanks in advance!
    Wayne

  • Jim and I stayed one night in Douglas (at the great old hotel there), and one night in Agua Prieta at the Hacienda Motel. This was part of our survey to find a place to live in Mexico. After dark, there was a lot of comings and goings of SUVs to and from the motel. Later, we could hear shooting and sirens – a lot of shooting and sirens. But, is it safe? According to my theory that if you are not into the narcotics business, and that means not even buying an ounce of marijuana, Mexico is safe. The narcos are after their own, and leave us ordinary folk alone. You are “ordinary folk,” aren’t you? We wouldn’t want to live in Agua Prieta, but it’s OK (I think) for a visit, especially since you have a friend there.
    God bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Romeo B.

    Hi MaryAnn, what would be your opinion of Agua Prieta as far as safety? I have a friend who lives there an has invited me to go down and visit him for a few months, which also allows me to improve my already conversational Spanish. I think it sounds like a great idea except that I’ve never been to Agua Prieta and am really concerned about my own personal safety.

    Thanks!
    Romeo B.

  • Purvanjali

    Thanks A lot Mary Ann

  • We think the safest and best place to live is close to the border. We live in an area called “Hipico.” It follows the border east of the main border entrance to Mexicali. There are markets within walking distance, and a Wal-Mart a couple of miles away. Look on a map (Google doesn’t have Mexicali street names). Yahoo, or Microsoft can show you – the streets to look for are Brazil, and Argentina.
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • Purvanjali

    hello!!
    i am planning to come down to mexicali from toronto in month of august for a months time so i am looking for some Apartment which is semi furnished and affordable for rent adn in safer and freindly locality. i have no knowledge of spainsh so looking for a freindly area near to market so i can manage out living out there. please can you help me out

  • You should stay in Mexicali. It is less expensive. If you stay in Calexico, you will have to cross the border when you return to the US, and that could take up to 1 1/2 hours (coming into Mexicali from Calexico, there is no wait at all). We have never stayed in a Mexicali hotel, but the good ones, centrally located are all on a street called “Justo Sierra.” Easy to find when you are coming from the US. There are some big hotels in other areas, but the traffic…
    God Bless,
    MaryAnn

  • rob andover

    Good day, Mary Ann, just wanted to ask you a quick question about Mexicali. If I wanted – say in October – to check into a hotel/motel for a a few days to check out Mexicali, could you recommend any affordable places to stay? Or would you recommend one stayed on the Calexico side? (From what you are saying, Mexicali being safe, maybe the Mexican side would be the better option?) Thanks and buenos tardes Rob Andover

  • Tino – Mexicali is almost so safe, it’s boring – a good thing. I haven’t heard of the dentists you mentioned, but I don’t know them all. God Bless, MaryAnn

  • Sounds like you’ve found a nice life. God Bless, MaryAnn

  • Mexicali is a very safe place. I like to write about some of the drug stuff going on, but there is no problem with safety here. The crime rate is lower than most every part of the U.S. As for the dentists you mention, I don’t know them, but I have found the dental care here to be so much better and cheaper than in the U.S. I had a complete periodontal job for US$500 – which could have been thousands in the states. The periodontist, Dr. Luis Fernando Marquez is also a professor at the university, here. Dr. Marquez speaks English, and his email address is luismarquez@uabc.mx. Good luck!

  • tino

    Good morning Mary Ann

    I got some names of dentist in Mexicali. I it still safe to go there for dental work?
    The names I got are:

    Dr. Jesus Osario Rios
    Dr. Helio Lazano

    Thank you, Tino

  • rob andover

    Hi Mary Ann, just wanted to thank you for this info you posted last month. I will look into this dentist that you mentioned. I need to get a root canal and a few crowns and once had a dentist – a very good dentist – in Nogales, Sonora that I went to and now I am told that Nogales is unsafe, hence I am seeking other options. Also I will look around Mexicali and see what I think of it! Thanks for posting all this info and for having this site to begin with! Rob Andover

  • David: First off, Mexicali is NOT like Tijuana and Rosarito Beach, where you will get pulled over for nothing. The police just don’t do that in Mexicali. Secondly, if you do get stopped by the police, they will escort you to the police station if need be – they will choose, not you. Finally, we find no listings of police stations here – probably for a very good reason. Again, Mexicali is a peaceful well-run town.
    God bless,
    MaryAnn

  • David

    I travel through Mexicali quite a bit and I’m trying to find a listing of all the police stations. That way I can go directly to a police station if I’m ever pulled over. Do you have any idea where I can find such information?

  • Hi Rob, the rents in Colonia Hipico (which I think is the best place to be), run in the area of from $300 to $500 a month. This can vary as rents are usually paid in pesos. So a 5,000 peso rental would come to $380. We pay about that for a 4 bedroom place, with a 3 car garage with an automatic garage door. Take a look at our OLX link in the right side panel to see Mexicali rentals.

    We have Mexican visas, but I don’t think they are necessary for Mexicali as the entire peninsula of Baja California is in the Free Zone! We still have U.S. license plates – no problemo.

    Still, we found it super easy to get Mexican visas in the States.

    The only dentist I know is Dr. Luis Fernando Marquez Corrales, Av Obregon No. 779, lhuamar@hotmail.com. He is a university professor, here and did a complete periodontal treatment on me for $500 – now find something like that in the States!

  • Rob Andover

    Hi MaryAnn, just ran across your site here about Mexicali and have a few questions if you would be so kind? What is rent like in the Colonia Hipico neighborhood you mention? Do you or your friends live on tourist cards, or is that not necessary because you live in the free zone where they don’t ask for ID? (I think it extends 20KM south of the border?) Do you know of any good dentists in Mexicali? Any info/advice would be appreciated. Thanks again, Rob Andover, Grand Canyon, Arizona 86023

  • Where 10 is best, I would have to give it a 2. This is the consensus of my Mexicali friends, who made comments, like “don’t leave your car outside.” The best areas are those closest to the border, and east of the border crossing. Colonia Hipico is in that area, and the rents are reasonable. In general, Mexicali is quite safe, but for living, stick to the north side, close to the border. God Bless, MaryAnn

  • ruben

    Do you guys know how safe la colonia hidalgo is,there in mexicali? rate it 1-10/

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