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Is Nogales Mexico Safe to Visit in 2024? What Is Nogales Crime Rate

Is Nogales Mexico Safe? Nogales is the border city crossing between Mexico and the United States in the 9th Mexican state of Sonora. It is a popular destination for American tourists and a hub for cross-border trade and commerce. However, the safety concerns when visiting Nogales, Mexico, are common for many potential travelers.

The city’s proximity to the U.S. border towns and its role in the flow of goods and people have made it a focal point for drug trafficking and other criminal activities. As a result, the U.S. Department of State has issued travel advisories for some regions of Mexico, including Nogales, due to the high levels of crime and violence. Let’s dive into and uncover more details about the safety situation in the city.

Is Nogales Mexico Safe to Visit in 2024 –  Key Takeaways

  1. Cartel Violence Risk – HIGH
  2. Kidnappings Risk –  LOW
  3. Fraud Risk – MEDIUM
  4. Petty Theft Risk – MEDIUM
  5. Level of Danger When Driving –  MEDIUM
  6. Level of Danger in Buses – MEDIUM
  7. Level of Danger in Taxi – MEDIUM
  8. Level of Danger at Night – MEDIUM
  9. Bad Areas – Colonia Benemérito, Colonia Lázaro Cárdenas, Remote border regions
  10. Safe Places – Downtown/Avenida Obregón, Nogales Cathedral, Plaza Pueblito, Morley Avenue (Nogales, Arizona), Parque La Raza
  11. Crime in Nogales compared to other cities in Mexico – Rating based on real reviews from travelers and locals according to Numbeo. Crime index meaning: 0-20 is very low, 20-40 is low, 40-60 is moderate, 60-80 is high, and 80-100 is very high.

CITY

STATE

CRIME INDEX

Guerrero

28.92

Quintana Roo

34.21

Jalisco

35.70

Quintana Roo

36.94

Queretaro

37.55

Sinaloa

39.43

Oaxaca

43.19

Baja California Sur

43.24

Nogales

Sonora

45.39

Nuevo León

48.25

Veracruz

49.20

Guanajuato

50.54

Guanajuato

50.94

Сhihuahua

55.49

Quintana Roo

55.73

Michoacan

56.90

Puebla

58.23

Chihuahua

68.71

Baja California

71.99

U.S. government employees may travel between the U.S. Ports of Entry in Nogales and Hermosillo during daylight hours via Federal Highway 15 only.U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory

Crime in Nogales 

Like any other border city, Nogales experiences its share of criminal activity. But visitors can stay safe by taking reasonable precautions. While the total crime in the state of Sonora was 36,125 and Nogales registered a total of 1,235 cases for the year 2023. Like any other border city, Nogales experiences its share of criminal activity. According to the National Incidence Report, there have been 122 reported cases for the first two months of 2024.

Crime in Nogales 
Credit: www.gob.mx

Let’s take a look at the different types of crimes and their associated risk levels in Nogales:

Cartel Violence Risk – High

While Sonora state is an area of caution due to organized crime, Nogales has generally not been excluded from travel advisories related to cartel violence. According to the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Juan Carlos Morgan Huerta, better known by his alias “Cacayo,” presides as the Sinaloa Cartel’s preeminent “plaza boss” overseeing operations in Nogales.

Cartel Violence Risk in Nogales
Credit: www.globalguardian.com

Huerta’s operations are responsible for about 62 homicide cases in 2023 as recorded in Nogales annual incident reports. This is equivalent to 5% of the total annual crime recorded in Nogales.

Homicides in Nogales
Credit: www.elcri.men

By the end of 2023, 4 homicide cases remained ongoing at Santa Cruz County Superior Court related to cartel violence. The months of January and February 2024 recorded a total of 10 homicide cases which pose significant security threats.

Kidnappings Risk – Low

Kidnappings have some concerns in the Sonora state, where Nogales is located. There were 15 kidnapping cases in 2023, according to the National Incidence Report. The same report shows that as of February 2024, there were 0 kidnapping cases, showing low enough kidnapping risks.

The majority of kidnapping cases likely involve local residents. But the risk extends to visitors and tourists as well. The State Department advises travelers to take basic precautions to reduce their risks of being kidnapped in Sonora state.

Kidnappings Risk in Nogales
Credit: www.travel.state.gov

However, this is not the case for the city of Nogales because the statistics show zero kidnapping cases in 2023 and as of February 2024, maintaining a low risk of kidnapping incidents. According to the National Citizen Observatory, there have been no reported kidnappings in Nogales for 2023 and 2024.

Frauds Risk – Medium

In Nogales, tourists can find themselves unwitting targets of fraud schemes, such as virtual kidnapping scams, where criminals claim to have abducted a loved one and demand ransom or direct threats of extortion if money is not paid.

According to local statistics, there were 9 cases of extortion reported in Nogales in 2023, and 1 case of extortion in January and February of 2024, highlighting the persistence of this issue. The U.S. State Department warns travelers to be cautious of unsolicited requests for funds or personal information through emails, which could be attempted as fraud or extortion schemes.

Note: While falling victim to fraud is unlikely to put you in physical danger, it can ruin a vacation and result in significant financial losses. Remaining vigilant, using authorized services, and trusting your instincts in suspicious situations are some of the best safety measures you can take.

Petty Theft Risk – Medium

Petty crimes like pickpocketing, bag snatching, and opportunistic thefts are a significant concern for visitors to Nogales.

  1. In 2023, Nogales recorded 101 cases of robbery with violence, 157 cases of vehicle theft, 11 cases of home robbery, and 18 cases of robbery against passersby.
  2. For 2024, in January and February, there were 10 and 7 cases of robbery with violence, 20 and 18 cases of vehicle theft, and 4 and 0 cases of robbery against passersby, respectively.
Petty Theft Risk in Nogales
Credit: www.youtube.com, @AlejandroCorralesFelix

Nogales’ crime index ratings on Numbeo further underscore the risks:

  1. Worries about being mugged or robbed: 54.17 (Moderate)
  2. Problem property crimes like vandalism and theft: 54.17 (Moderate)
  3. Problem violent crimes like assault and armed robbery: 45.83 (Moderate)
Petty Theft in Nogales

In tourist areas, crowded markets, and public transportation, travelers should remain vigilant about protecting their belongings. Common tactics include:

  1. Slashing/cutting bags or purses to remove contents
  2. Distractions like spilling something on you create confusion
  3. Snatch-and-grab thefts of phones, cameras, or bags
  4. Thieves on motorcycles driving by and grabbing purses/bags

While very unlikely to escalate to violence, falling victim to skilled pickpockets or bag snatchers can disrupt your travel plans.

Avoiding Bad Areas

While parts of Nogales cater to tourists and are generally safe, there are some areas visitors should avoid, especially at night. Use extra caution when venturing outside of the main tourist zones.

Here are some areas you should avoid when visiting Nogales Mexico:

Bad Areas to Avoid in Nogales
Credit: www.youtube.com, @AlejandroCorralesFelix
  1. Colonia Benemérito: This neighborhood on the northern outskirts of Nogales is known for excessive crime quotes and drug-related activities.
  2. Colonia Lázaro Cárdenas: Located near the U.S. Border, this place has a recognition for gang interest and must be prevented, especially at night time.
  3. Remote border regions: The faraway areas alongside the U.S.-Mexico border are liable to drug smuggling and human trafficking activities, making them probably risky for traffic.

Staying in populated tourist-friendly districts is the best way to avoid wandering into risky territory. While crime can happen anywhere, limiting exposure to isolated areas with known criminal activity reduces the chances of becoming a victim.

The Complete Guide to Transport

Getting around Nogales can be challenging for visitors and residents alike. With high crime rates, one must take proper precautions depending on the mode of transportation used. Let’s explore the risks associated with various ways of getting around Nogales.

Is it Safe to Drive in Nogales Mexico? – Medium Risk

Driving on the roads of Sonora comes with risks. In January 2024 alone, there were 92 cases related to traffic incidents in the state, and throughout 2023, the total number of such cases reached 929. The main danger doesn’t stem from conflicts involving drug cartels that often make headlines.

Is it Safe to Drive in Sonora state Mexico

Instead, the hazardous routes and heavy traffic between cities in Sonora pose the primary risks. A single mistake on these roads can lead to a tragic accident. In Nogales for instance, vehicle theft is a major concern. According to the National Incidence Report:

  1. In 2023 the were 157 incidents of vehicle theft.
  2. In 2024, January saw 20 cases, and February had 18 cases reported.
Is it Safe to Drive in Nogales Mexico
Credit: www.youtube.com, @AlejandroCorralesFelix

Furthermore, data from Numbeo indicates that the worries about car theft and things being stolen from cars are high in Nogales, with scores of 58.33 and 41.67, respectively, on a scale of 100. When driving around Nogales and Sonora, consider the following additional precautions:

  1. Use Highway 15 when driving because it has moderate traffic. However, watch out for jaywalkers.
  2. You must have auto insurance that is valid in Mexico. Most U.S. or Canadian auto insurance will not provide coverage.
  3. A rental car from the U.S. needs authorization paperwork to enter Mexico.

Safety in Buses in Nogales, Mexico – Medium Risk

According to the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Consulate in Nogales, buses play a major transportation role in Nogales and throughout Mexico. However, there are concerns about using public transportation services in the Nogales Consular District since they are not known for their safe driving.

Some reputable bust companies in Nogales include:

  1. Tufesa (Transportes Unidos Fronteras S.A.)
  2. Estrella Blanca
  3. Autobuses Norteños
  4. Omnibus Mexicano
Safety in Buses in Nogales

Visitors should also be aware of some of these specifics when traveling by bus in Nogales, Mexico:

  1. Apart from the local customs, the U.S. searches all buses crossing the border, leading to delays and questioning from police if contraband is found.
  2. Major Mexican bus companies servicing Nogales include Auto Tufesa and Estrella Blanca.
  3. Visitors should remain alert, secure valuables, and use the buddy system when possible.

Safety in Taxis in Nogales Mexico – Medium Risk

Taxis represent another prevalent mode of transportation in Nogales. Still, opting for licensed, registered taxi providers or using well-known ride-sharing apps is crucialfor your safety Taxis cannot be deemed entirely safe, as certain drivers may attempt to overcharge visitors or take them on longer routes, compounding safety risks.

The influence of criminal elements looms large over the taxi industry in Nogales, making robust vetting processes for drivers and companies a challenge. Because of this, The U.S. Consulate strongly recommends avoiding taxis and rideshares unless no other transportation option is available. Recommended Taxi and Ride-Sharing Services in Nogales:

Safety in Taxis in Nogales Mexico
  1. Uber
  2. Didi
  3. Nogales Taxis Rojos
  4. Servi Taxi Sitio Fundo Legal
  5. Taxi Amigo

It’s advisable to research and compare reviews for these services and prioritize reputable, well-established providers to minimize risks during your stay in Nogales.

Is Nogales Mexico Safe at Night? Medium Risk

Nogales sees higher risks after dark that require caution. According to Numbeo’s safety index, walking alone at night in Nogales is rated 55/100, indicating moderate danger levels. In January and February 2024, there were 10 homicides recorded in Nogales, reflecting the ongoing security challenges in the city.

Proper vigilance can prevent major trouble, but risks rise significantly after dark. Given the crime statistics, tourists should exercise extreme caution or consider restricting outings at night in Nogales. In 2023, Nogales recorded 101 cases of robbery with violence, 157 cases of vehicle theft, and 11 cases of home robbery.

Safe Places to Visit in Nogales Mexico

While parts of Nogales deal with higher crime rates, plenty of areas and attractions are generally safe for visitors when taking basic precautions. The border city has a vibrant downtown filled with markets, historic sites like Puerto Penasco (Rocky Point), and cultural activities that draw tourists from Mexico and the United States. Here are some safe places to go when visiting Nogales.

Safe Nogales Locations to Visit
Credit: www.youtube.com, @BENITOBARRERAVLOG
  1. Downtown/Avenida Obregón: The main downtown area centered around Avenida Obregón is a lively tourist district with shops, restaurants, and street vendors selling souvenirs and local goods. The presence of Mexican authorities keeps this area relatively secure during daytime hours.
  2. Nogales Cathedral: This beautiful cathedral, dating back to the early 1900s, is a popular attraction located right off Avenida Obregón in the downtown area.
  3. Plaza Pueblito: An open-air market near the border crossing, Plaza Pueblito, has stalls selling Mexican food, clothing, and handicrafts in a controlled, touristy environment.
  4. Morley Avenue (Nogales, Arizona): Just across the border, the historic Morley Avenue in downtown Nogales, Arizona side, offers shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions in a safe, welcoming district.
  5. Parque La Raza: A green space in central Nogales frequented by locals, Parque La Raza has walking trails, sports facilities, and playgrounds that draw families during the day.

Sticking to these busier central tourist zones, especially when guided, and avoiding isolated areas go a long way in ensuring you don’t have any safety concerns.

Safety Tips for Nogales Mexico

While exploring Nogales’ museums, markets, and other sites, as a tourist, you are strongly advised to adhere to essential safety guidelines issued by travel advisories:Considering risks and taking the right safety measures is critical for an incident-free visit. Here are some tips:

  • Purchase Comprehensive Travel Insurance: Given Nogales’ high crime rates and risks, getting adequate travel insurance is highly recommended. Policies with emergency medical coverage, evacuation services, and trip cancellation start around USD 4-8 per day.
  • Avoid Carrying or Purchasing Any Illicit Drugs: Mexico has strict laws against drug possession with minimum 10-year prison sentences, even for small personal amounts. Trafficking crimes are rampant in towns like Nogales. If you respect local customs and avoid drugs, it eliminates this substantial risk, especially during the spring break season.
  • Only Use Regulated “Sitio” Taxi Stands and Verified RidesharesUnlicensed taxis pose huge safety risks, with over 75 reported taxi crimes in Nogales last year. Only use regulated stands (“sitios”) or booked services like Uber. Never enter random unmarked cabs. Confirm driver credentials and vehicle information beforehand.
  • Stay in Well-Lit, Populated Areas and Avoid Deserted Streets: Stick to the main tourist areas downtown with safety in numbers and plenty of lighting and patrols by the Mexican authorities. Avoid deserted side streets or alleys. Most of the violent crimes occur after dark when fewer people are out.
  • Don’t Drive at Night Due to Road Risks: Avoid driving between at night if possible. 60% of homicides happen overnight, plus roads are more dangerous in the dark. Use regulated taxis/rideshares only at night. Drunk driving and poor lighting raise crash risks. Additionally, you risk your car being stolen according to annual data statistics.
  • Keep Valuables and Cash Out of Sight: Don’t wear expensive jewelry or watches, and avoid flashing signs of wealth. Only carry minimal cash and one credit card if needed. Petty theft and muggings are common via pickpocketing or snatch and grabs. Only bring valuables you are willing to lose.
  • Notify Family/Friends of Your Plans and Hotels: Share your detailed itinerary and hotel address with emergency contacts at home. Check in regularly via text/call so they know your movements. Program their numbers into your phone if issues arise or you need help or a funds transfer. You can also join a smart traveler enrolment program that helps you keep tabs on situations.

FAQ

Is Nogales Mexico safe for tourists?

Yes, Nogales is safe for tourists. However, the place requires vigilance due to some crimes. Nogales recorded 101 robberies with violence cases, 157 vehicle thefts, and 18 robberies against passersby in 2023. By the usage of common feel precautions, staying in populated regions, and restricting nighttime walks, dangers can be controlled.

Is Nogales a safe border town?

Yes, Nogales is a medium-safe border town. It sees moderate crime as compared to other locations. In 2023, Nogales recorded 11 home robberies and 18 robberies towards passersby. Extra precautions help mitigate dangers.

What is the crime rate in Nogales?

Nogales has a completely moderate crime index of 45.39 according to Numbeo. This town does have not an unusually high violent crime rate or kidnappings.

Is it safe to walk into Nogales?

Yes, it is safe to walk into Nogales. However, walking is safe downtown during the day if you stick to busy commercial and tourist zones. According to Numbeo, the safety rating for walking alone during the day in Nogales is 79.17/100, which is a high level. Avoid unpopulated areas, especially at night when risks are higher citywide.

Conclusion

Is Nogales, Mexico, safe? While Nogales offers cultural attractions and a vibrant downtown area, visitors must exercise vigilance due to elevated crime rates in this border city.

Specific risks in Nogales include threats from cartel violence, kidnapping, fraud, and petty crimes like theft. In 2023, Nogales recorded 101 cases of robbery with violence, 157 vehicle thefts, 11 home robberies, and 9 cases of extortion. The first two months of 2024 saw 17 robberies with violence, 38 vehicle thefts, and 1 extortion case. According to Numbeo, the safety rating for walking alone at night is a moderate 55.00/100.

While downtown areas are relatively secure during daylight hours, risks rise significantly after dark. However, by staying in well-lit populated areas, using licensed transportation, avoiding isolated areas (especially at night), and following common safety precautions, tourists can mitigate risks and experience Nogales’ cultural attractions.