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Is Jalisco Safe for Travelers in 2024? Discussing Crime Stats of Jalisco

Is Jalisco safe for tourists? Jalisco is one of the largest Mexican states and is known for a variety of beautiful destinations. The El Centro in Guadalajara and the resorts of Puerto Vallarta are some of the most popular tourist attractions for international travelers. However, Jalisco also has its fair share of dangers. An official report by the Mexican Government showed that in January 2024 Jalisco is in the top 4 states with 11,463 crimes committed.

Continue reading and learn the crime rate of Jalisco in detail and what you can do to be secure in the state. Moreover, uncover how to avoid sketchy neighborhoods and which areas offer a safe and enjoyable trip for solo travelers. Let’s dive into it!

Is Jalisco Safe to Visit in 2024 – Key Takeaways

  1. Cartel Violence Risk – HIGH
  2. Kidnappings Risk – HIGH
  3. Fraud Risk – MEDIUM
  4. Petty Theft Risk – HIGH
  5. Level of Danger When Driving – MEDIUM
  6. Bad Areas – Lagos de Moreno, Mezquitic, Villa Guerrero
  7. Safe Places – Chapala, Puerto Vallarta, El Centro in Guadalajara
  8. Number of crimes in the Jalisco state compared to other states in Mexico:
Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Jalisco state. In Guadalajara, territorial battles between criminal groups take place in tourist areas. Shooting incidents between criminal groups have injured or killed innocent bystanders. U.S. citizens and LPRs have been victims of kidnapping. US Department of State

Criminal Activity in Jalisco

Safety warnings from the U.S. State Department suggest tourists reconsider travel to Jalisco due to increased crime in the state. If we revisit the statistics from the year 2023, 131,695 crimes were reported in the state by the Government of Mexico.

Crime in Jalisco
Credit: www.gob.mx

Despite travel limitations, government employees are still free to visit some popular tourist destinations. These include Ajijic, Chapala, Puerto Vallarta (including the neighboring Riviera Nayarit), and the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. They are only asked to be more cautious while they’re there.

So it is important to understand the crime situation in the state for the best possible traveling experience. Join me as I go into the finer details about crime in Jalisco, Mexico.

Risk of Cartel Violence – High

Even being one of Mexico’s most famous states, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel — the most powerful gang in the state is still very much at large. According to the analysis by VOH, a measurer of peacefulness in Mexico, the Jalisco cartel is responsible for 81% of all cartel-related homicides that happened in the last 10 years.

Risk of Cartel Violence in Jalisco
Credit: www.globalguardian.com

A study published in the ‘Science’ journal revealed that cartels are the fifth-biggest employers in all of Mexico. The findings also reveal the relative numbers of each criminal organization; for example, one in ten is a member of the Sinaloa Cartel, while nearly two in ten are members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel. Both of these are 2 of the biggest gangs operating in Jalisco, pointing to the grasp the cartels have over the state.

Risk of Kidnappings – High

From 2013 to 2023, there was a dramatic increase in the number of reported cases of systematic disappearances in Jalisco.

Risk of Kidnappings in Jalisco

According to U.S. Department of State recommendations from August 2023 US Government employees are forbidden to travel:

  1. To the area between Federal Highway 110;
  2. To the Jalisco-Michoacan border due to the heavy incidence of crime and kidnapping on these routes.

An alarming fact is that according to a 2023 report by Statista, Jalisco has had one of the most number of missing persons till the present year with 14,907. In January 2024, the number of kidnappings was 1, and 82 victims of other offenses against personal liberty.

Note: To be safe during Mexico vacation, you should exercise increased caution, travel in groups, and follow the local customs and laws of the regional police.

Risk of Fraud – Moderate

There are a fair number of tourist scams in Jalisco, as there are in any other popular tourist destination. According to a 2023 report by Mexico’s Government, the reported number of crimes related to fraud in Jalisco is 10,266. Check the frequent scams in the state:

Scams to Watch Out for in Jalisco
  1. Telephone scams: So many con artists use phone calls as their initial point of contact. A notice against telephone extortion is also displayed above each room’s telephone at the Hospital Mexico Americano. Keep an eye out since many individuals get extortion calls that sound quite similar.
  2. Timeshare scams: A lot of individuals are attempting to sell their timeshares to avoid paying for their taxes and fees. The criminal groups pass themselves off as legitimate timeshare brokerages. The deceitful practice involves asking for payment in advance, but then they vanish without ever selling the timeshare.
  3. Rental scams: Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara are two of the most congested rental markets in not just Jalisco, but all of Mexico. Unlike in the US, Mexico does not have a court that hears small claims cases. The risk of renting a flat without first seeing the place is high. It seems like every week there is an unfortunate foreign national who has planned to rent a house in Jalisco, only to discover that the rental agency is a fraud and that the property does not belong to them.

Risk of Petty Theft – High

A thorough report in 2023 by the Government of Mexico found that by far the most common crime activity in Jalisco is theft with 42,147 incidents. In January 2024 this amount was Another report by Statista further cements the previous data. Theft makes up a whopping 31.4% of all crimes in Jalisco.

To avoid falling prey to theft, I would suggest you follow the couple of safety measures listed below:

  1. Please exercise caution and keep your personal belongings secure by not showing them off.
  2. Do not carry more than 4000 MXN as they are enough for a per day travel. Leave unnecessary valuable items in your hotel.

3 Bad Areas to Avoid

The U.S. Foreign Travel Department advises avoiding non-essential travel from the Michoacán border to the Colima border in the southwest region of Lake Chapala. They also warn against going to the following regions unless necessary.

Bad Areas to Avoid In Jalisco
  1. Lagos de Moreno: Lagos de Moreno is a city and is located in the region of Los Altos de Jalisco, Mexico. It has been terrorized by cartel violence in recent years. On the 8th of December 2023, according to Mexico News Daily, 5 suspects were arrested in connection to the kidnapping of 5 young men on August 11th.
  2. Mezquitic: The Mexican municipality of Mezquitic is located in the northern part of the state of Jalisco. The state of Zacatecas forms its borders to the north, east, and west. It is dangerous and you should avoid it since the AMLO crime group is engaged in a war with the Sinaloa cartel in Zacatecas.
  3. Villa Guerrero: Located in northern Jalisco, Mexico, lies the small municipality of Villa Guerrero. It is heavily controlled by the narco cartels. I would recommend you don’t go there if you want to enjoy a safer trip.

Is it Safe to Drive in Jalisco Mexico? Risk Level: Moderate

Factors such as excessive traffic, unclear route structure, and inadequate signage make city driving challenging at times. Theft or vandalism of your vehicle is also a possibility and the risk varies depending on which Jalisco city you are in. Let’s have a look at the risks involved with driving in selected cities in Jalisco:

AREA

RISK LEVEL

SAFETY REMARKS

Guadalajara

High

According to stats from Numbeo, the worry of your car being stolen or items from your car being stolen ranges from 63-72

Puerto Vallarta

Low

Data provided by Numbeo states the crime index of your car being stolen or items from your car being stolen ranges from 28-37

Federal Highway 110

Moderate

According to the U.S. State Department, staying off Federal Highway 110 is important due to the increased risk of kidnappings by the cartel

From the official data, it becomes clear that there are certain parts of Jalisco where driving can be quite safe and enjoyable while in other parts driving can be risky. For that reason, I recommend you exercise safety precautions and use public transport when you are unaware of the route.

Discovering The Safest Places in Jalisco

Not the whole state of Jalisco is dangerous. Some regions of Jalisco are quite safe and are full of cultural delights that are a must-visit. The scenic town of Chapala, the beautiful Puerto Vallarta, and El Centro in Guadalajara are 3 of the safest places you can hope to find in Jalisco. In addition to safety, they provide a range of attractions for you to explore. Here’s a detailed look:

The Safest Places in Jalisco
  1. Chapala: The picturesque landscape, mouth-watering food, and lively festivals of this charming town are well-known. Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake, hosts the city of Chapala, providing a serene setting to relax and appreciate nature’s beauty. According to Numbeo, with a crime index of just 21.3, it is one of the safest places in all of Jalisco.
  2. Puerto Vallarta: Everything from beautiful beaches and breathtaking sunsets to mouthwatering food and lively nightlife is available in Puerto Vallarta. Puerto Vallarta has some of the world’s best restaurants, both Mexican and international· With a crime index of 35.7 stated by Numbeo, you will be in complete safety while enjoying to the fullest.
  3. El Centro in Guadalajara: Guadalajara is one of Mexico’s major cities and stands on equal footing with Mexico City. El Centro, also known as Centro Histórico, is the main hub of the city and is one of the safest places in Guadalajara. It is located just 12.4 miles from Guadalajara International Airport. Most of your time as a tourist will be spent here. Explore sights such as the Cabañas Cultural Institute, a fantastic art center that is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Shedding Light On Weather and Natural Catastrophes in Jalisco

When individuals visit to certain regions of Mexico, the weather is the first thing that catches them off guard. Jalisco has a diverse climate complete with areas of cold dry climates as well as areas of hot, humid tropics. Heavy rains fall nearly daily during the summer(June-September) with most cities recording on average more than 750 mm of rainfall a year.

  1. Tropical storms often make landfall in Jalisco, and they also tend to pass along the shore during the wet season. A hurricane’s powerful winds may topple trees, and the storm’s precipitation can flood rivers.
  2. Near Puerto Vallarta, on the southern coast of Banderas Bay, Hurricane Lidia made landfall in 2023. According to Mexico’s civil defense system head Laura Velázquez, a tree fell on the northern borders of Puerto Vallarta, killing one person and injuring two more.
  3. Earthquakes occur regularly in Jalisco, but they are mostly of small magnitudes that are barely felt. Thus, according to Volcanodiscovery, as of March 9, 2024, 21 earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 2 to 3.9 have occurred in the last week. In 2023, there were 1,231 earthquakes in Jalisco with magnitudes up to 5.8. It was not until 2022 that a magnitude 7.7 earthquake with an epicenter in the neighboring state of Michoacán was strongly felt in Jalisco. It damaged many buildings in Guadalajara and coastal cities.
Earthquakes in Jalisco
Credit: www.allquakes.com

Below are some safety tips that will help you stay protected from any extreme and unexpected weather occurrence in Jalisco:

  1. Stay informed: Be vigilant in monitoring weather alerts and changes. Make sure you know how to evacuate a place. Quickly comply with directives issued by regional authorities.
  2. Stock supplies: Always keep a supply of water, non-perishable meals, a light source, and any necessary medical supplies on hand.
  3. QuakeAlert: The QuakeAlert app can help you be more prepared for earthquakes by giving you a 20-second warning.

General Safety Precautions For Your Protection in Jalisco, Mexico

Staying safe in Jalisco, Mexico, requires you to use your best judgment and apply common sense. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind when you’re out and about in the city.

  1. Travel insurance: Good insurance coverage will pay for medical bills up to $250,000. It also covers things like repatriation, lost or stolen luggage, outdoor activities like hiking, and other unexpected situations. Remember to write down your policy number since it will be requested first when you need assistance in Mexico. One of the notable insurance companies is MexInsurance.
  2. Recreational drugs: Since the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, Mexico’s biggest drug gang, is based in Jalisco, you’re likely to come across several drug dealers and users. The crime index for dealing and using drugs in Guadalajara is high at 62.6. Avoid being involved with the criminal underworld, particularly when it comes to buying and using narcotics.
  3. Police officer scam: Numerous first-hand accounts have surfaced about con artists posing as law enforcement officials. They seize your passports or other forms of identification and will not release them unless you bribe them. Avoiding this is as simple as asking for identification, such as a badge number, to verify that the person is a legitimate police officer.
  4. Driving at night: Since you are a visitor, you won’t know your way around many regions, making nighttime driving risky. Carjackings are rampant in the Jalisco state, making you a prime target for thieves.
  5. Follow local news and safety tips: Get to know the local laws and traditions before you arrive to avoid getting in trouble or even arrested. Please visit the State Department’s travel website for further details regarding the restrictions of Jalisco.
  6. Transportation services: Make your rail or bus reservation in advance by calling the hotel or going online. You may also use Uber, which is a secure alternative because you can see the drivers’ identities. Another perk is letting someone else digitally track your journey with you.
  7. Stay in tourist areas: Remain on well-marked paths or stick near your hotel or the main road if you must venture out. Never go off on your own in a dark or unknown place. Joining a group or gathering in a crowded place is always a good idea.
  8. Emergency contacts and itinerary: Give reliable people a copy of your itinerary before you go so they can keep an eye on your whereabouts. Be sure to stay in regular contact with your connections. Keep both a paper and digital record of important numbers, including emergency contacts (such as 911 for the quickest response), embassy contact information, and travel insurance details.

FAQ

What is the crime rate in Jalisco Mexico?

The total number of crimes that occurred in Jalisco Mexico in January 2024 is 11,463 as per the Government of Mexico. These stats make it the 4th state with the highest number of crimes reported.

Is Jalisco safe for American tourists?

No, Jalisco is not safe for American tourists. The guidelines laid out by the U.S. State Department state that you should reconsider travel to the state due to the increased risk of crime and kidnappings.

Conclusion

Let’s revise, is Jalisco safe? With 11,463 in January 2024 and 131,695 numbers in 2023 of crimes committed, Jalisco is one of the most dangerous Mexican states for tourists to visit. The state is entangled in crime such as violent crime by cartels, theft, and kidnappings. Staying away from areas such as the municipalities of Amacueca and Bolaños will serve you well. If you want to get the best travel experience, go to the scenic towns of Chapala and Puerto Vallarta. You can enjoy their famous mariachi and tequila. Visit their fancy restaurants and beautiful scenery like Ajijic in complete safety.

Driving can be quite safe in Puerto Vallarta while in Guadalajara there is an increased risk of stealing your car or personal belongings. Some vital tips such as staying in well-populated tourist areas, having reputable travel insurance, and having emergency contacts on speed dial will make your trip more safely.