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Is Veracruz Mexico Safe In 2024? Crime Index and Safe Areas Listed!

Is Veracruz Mexico safe for visits? Veracruz offers an intriguing combination of natural beauty, rich history, delicious cuisine, and exciting activities, making it an attractive destination. However, there exist some dangers, including cartel violence, petty theft, etc. According to Numbeo, it carries a moderate crime rate of 49%.

So, it raises an important query, how do you embrace safety while enjoying a relaxing tour to Veracruz? Continue reading as I will tell you which areas are best for a memorable traveling experience and which ones you must avoid. I will also share 11 measures that will help you get a secure visit. Let’s dive into the details!

Is Veracruz Mexico Safe to Visit in 2024 –  Key Takeaways

  1. Cartel Violence Risk – HIGH
  2. Kidnappings Risk – MEDIUM
  3. Fraud Risk – MEDIUM
  4. Petty Theft Risk – HIGH
  5. Level of Danger When Driving – MEDIUM
  6. Level of Danger in Buses – LOW
  7. Level of Danger in Taxi – LOW
  8. Level of Danger at Night – MEDIUM
  9. Bad Areas – Coatzacoalcos, Xalapa, Poza Rica
  10. Safe Places – Merida, San Andrés Tuxtla, El Carrizal
  11. Crime in Veracruz (major port city and municipal seat of the state Veracruz) 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

Veracruz

49.20

Guanajuato

50.54

San Miguel de Allende

Guanajuato

50.94

Сhihuahua

55.49

Quintana Roo

55.73

Morelia

Michoacan

56.90

Puebla

58.23

Chihuahua

68.71

Baja California

71.99

  1. Number of crimes in the Veracruz state compared to other states in Mexico:
Exercise increased caution due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity occur with increasing frequency in Veracruz, particularly in the center and south near Cordoba and Coatzacoalcos. While most gang-related violence is targeted, violence perpetrated by criminal organizations can affect bystanders. There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Veracruz state. US Department of State

Exploring The 4 Common Crimes in Veracruz

Veracruz, a state of Mexico is home to cultural heritage and forestries like Los Tuxtlas. But amidst the beauty lurk some dangers for visitors, too. According to a report by the Government of Mexico, a total of 86,520 criminal incidents took place in the state last year. This also includes 5,898 crimes that were reported only in December 2023. Given such stats, allow me to uncover the 4 most common crimes in the state:

Is Veracruz Mexico Safe - Veracruz Crime
Credit: www.gob.mx

Veracruz has seen its fair share of ups and downs. It is said to be one of the most violent crime states Mexico has ever seen. Especially when the Zetas and CJNG drug cartels were fighting there. Although unfortunate, it is still the harbor of many killings brought about by the Gulf cartel and other gangs.

Credit: www.globalguardian.com

According to a verified report by Alarabiya News in 2023, more than 13 bodies were found in Veracruz, Mexico. The authorities confirmed it was a result of cartel-related violence, severely raising questions about safety concerns.

BorderReport published the news back in August 2023 that authorities in Veracruz discovered human remains stored in plastic bags inside refrigerators and ice boxes of five homes. It was located within Poza Rica city in Veracruz State. The report also highlights that the reason behind this increased violence is due to Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

The possible causes of such incidents are:

  1. Each gang seeks control of lucrative drug trafficking routes to the U.S.
  2. Continuous revenge-based tactics amongst active cartels.

2. Kidnappings Risk – Moderate

The U.S. The State Government has recommended citizens and visitors practice increased caution and safety concerns in Veracruz, Mexico. As of 2023, Veracruz saw a total of 26 kidnapping cases according to the Mexican government. From 2021 to 2023, kidnapping cases observed a very minor difference, which indicates a moderate risk of kidnapping in Veracruz. 

Credit: www.travel.state.gov

That said, according to Sesnsp data, Mexico State saw the most complaints regarding kidnappings between January and July 2021 with 74 cases; Veracruz came second with 32 reported cases of kidnapping. To avoid kidnappings, keep a low profile, choose trustworthy taxis, and hide valuable belongings.

3. Fraud Risk – Moderate

Veracruz falls under the spectrum of moderate fraud risks, with a total of 4,132 fraud crimes taking place in 2023, with the highest number of frauds 418 taking place in November. These stats are considered moderate if we compare them with another state in Mexico, Ciudad de Mexico, where a total of 23,891 took place in 2023.

Let me share some most common fraud tactics of Veracruz with you:

  1. Guessing Games: In Veracruz, Mexico, a street performer with three boxes attracts crowds to guess where a ball is placed. The man hands prizes to correct guesses, attracting more people. An innocent bystander, or mostly tourists, is also asked to guess, but the group members quickly pocket the valuables — scamming anyone who participates.
  2. Picture Scam: Residents in Veracruz will hand you their cameras to take a picture. When returning the camera, they will allegedly ‘drop’ it and blame you for covering its price.
  3. Overcharging Taxis: Local residents have an idea about expected fare rates in Veracruz, but what about someone new to the state? Visitors often become victims of overcharging. The best practice is to opt for a registered taxi service or use the services of Uber.
  4. Friendly ATM Card Scams: Some people in Veracruz target travelers to steal their credit and debit card information. They claim fake promises that they would help the traveler avoid bank and tax fees by so and so methods. However, in reality, they will scan the credit and debit cards in the process, scamming the individual.

4. Petty Theft Risk – High

Petty theft is one of the most repetitive crimes in Veracruz, Mexico. According to Numbeo stats, the petty theft rate at 68.4%, easily classifying it as a high-risk area. These crimes encompass offenses such as bag theft, pickpocketing, and vandalism.

This is particularly prevalent on public transportation and in congested locations. Taxi drivers may be impersonators or accomplices of thieves, and individuals who have requested taxis from the street have been plundered. You should exercise the same common sense precautions as you do for fraud including using a credit card instead of cash and only choosing officially verified transits.

What are the Bad Areas to Avoid in Veracruz Mexico?

The Veracruz State has some areas that are not travel-friendly. Let me tell you the reasons why you should avoid them:

  1. Coatzacoalcos: This industrial and one of the major cities of Veracruz has seen gang violence and cartel activities. In 2023, 51 lives were lost here due to homicide attempts, according to Elcri, making it a dangerous area for your tours.
  2. Xalapa: You should avoid this area because of its increasingly common crimes. According to Numbeo, there’s a 71% observed increase in crime rate in Xalapa. Furthermore, it’s a much more dangerous area at night with only a 32% safety index for anyone walking alone at night.
  3. Poza Rica: Poza Rica is an area brimming with cartel-related activities. Two of the most recent cases, occurred in 2023 and resulted in 13 and 34 casualties, respectively. Both were the result of cartels and gang rivalry and were reported in Poza Rica. These cases highlight the area’s danger for tourists.

The 3 Local Travel Necessities: Complete Guide to Transport in Veracruz

If you are planning to visit Veracruz, it is necessary to understand its different transportation modes. Join me as I address the security situation related to mobility in Veracruz:

1. Is it Safe to Drive in Veracruz Mexico? – Moderate Risk

It is safe to drive in Veracruz Mexico, as the safety index of the state according to Numbeo measures 50%. The worry of people related to their cars being stolen or things from their cars being stolen ranges from 38-55% as per Numbeo stats in 2023.

That said, the roads are well made, and most areas do not pose any threats, except for Veracruz Highway and the 150D Federal Motorway. This is due to the intensity of cartel-related activities and gang raids taking place along the highway. To drive safely, I’d advise you to follow these safety measures:

  1. Travel in a small car as opposed to a bigger one as it attracts too much attention.
  2. Refrain from carrying any expensive luggage items.
  3. Drive in the daytime instead of a night travel.

Traveling by car makes tours to many places convenient. You can visit many magical towns and worthwhile beaches in Veracruz by car, such as:

  1. Orizaba;
  2. Coscomatepec;
  3. Xico;
  4. Coatepec;
  5. Chachalacas Beach;
  6. Tecolutla Beach;
  7. Playa Mocambo.

2. Safety in Buses in Veracruz – Low-Risk

Public transport like buses are considered safe for tourists in Veracruz. This is mainly because people travel in a group. Let me share a few public transport buses that are trustworthy and overall provide satisfactory and safer transport in Veracruz:

  1. ADO;
  2. FlixBus;
  3. Estrella Roja;
  4. ETN;
  5. Primera Plus.

Overall, choosing reputable buses like the above assures that you get the best and safest travel experience in the state. However, Coatzacoalcos (77.08% cargo thefts) and Xalapa (62.84% cargo thefts) are some dangerous areas that visitors should best avoid, both through driving and buses.

3. Safety in Taxis in Veracruz – Low-Risk

Traveling by taxis in Veracruz is one of the safest ways to roam in the state and the city. Reputable companies like Uber run the taxis in the state, and local taxi service providers have the license and official documents to run taxis there. However, I’d still advise you to identify official taxis by looking at meter markings and the Veracruz City seal.

I’ll also recommend some reputable taxi services unique to Veracruz:

  1. Radio Taxi del Puerto;
  2. Taxi Plus;
  3. Taxi Ejecutivo.

Is Veracruz Safe at Night? Moderate Risk

Numbeo’s research indicates that the Veracruz safety index for strolling alone at night is 42% which is considered moderate. Numerous criminal activities, including trivial theft and fraud, are prevalent in the evening. However, Veracruz also offers some of the best nightlife experiences at the following places:

  1. Cafetalera San Felipe: This farm provides night tours where visitors can learn about making coffee and tasting as well, while also taking in its fresh night air, stargazing, and enjoying a bonfire.
  2. Pleamar Beach Club: This bar and club offers live music and dancing on the beach during sunset or nighttime, offering scenic ocean views at every opportunity.
  3. La Ermita: It is the ideal place for you and your friends to gather and relax over a beverage of your choosing from among an extensive selection of beers, wines, and cocktails.

What Are the Safe Places to Visit in Veracruz?

Unlike the crime-inflated areas in Veracruz, some places in the state are not only safe but also deserve back-to-back visits. In essence, let’s take a look at such safe and popular tourist destinations:

  1. Merida: According to the data given on Numbeo, the safety index of Merida is 74%. Furthermore, the same statistic confirms 91% and 78% safety of any individuals walking alone at daytime and night time, respectively. Thus, you can tour Plaza Grande and the Mayan Museum and enjoy your trip without any worries in Merida.
  2. San Andrés Tuxtla: Having a height of almost 60 meters, the attraction known as the Salto de Eyipantla waterfall will be a worth-watching sight. Its scene was immortalized in the blockbuster film Apocalypto, which is found in San Andrés Tuxtla, near Catemaco. I would also recommend the street food in the area.
  3. El Carrizal: Located in the municipality of Emiliano Zapata, El Carrizal stands just 40 minutes away from Xalapa. The appeal of this location is the hot springs at 39 degrees, to which considerable advantages are credited. A trip with a relaxing sauna, local customs, and rich history is always best.

Brief List of Normal Precautions and Safety Concerns for Veracruz, a Mexico City

Allow me to present some safety tips and some common sense precautions that you should consider while traveling to Veracruz:

  1. Get Insurance: Travel insurance that can cover medical emergencies is much needed in Veracruz, as it’s a place posing a high risk of tropical diseases. A great travel insurance provider in Mexico is Seguros Banorte Generali S.A. de C.V., Grupo Financiero Banorte.
  2. Avoid Drug-Related Activities: Drug cartel activities, especially when gangs are roaming around, are very common in the state. A great one from safety tips is to ensure you stay away from drug trade areas. Coatzacoalcos and Xalapa should best be avoided in this regard.
  3. Keep Informed with Local News: Political rallies or protests are expected in Veracruz, especially cartel-related activities. Always keep up-to-date with local news during your stay. You can get daily news updates from The Independent and NDTV
  4. Choose Recognized Travel Services: It’s best to use trustworthy transits only, especially those your tourism offices or accommodations recommend. In addition, Taxi2Airport Veracruz, LudTravel, Europe Journey, and Ado, are safer options.
  5. Limit Cash on Hand: Petty theft is one of the most common crimes in Veracruz. Visitors should keep MXN 1000 on hand for a day’s worth of meals, shopping, sightseeing, and transport (buses and taxis). However, I recommend using credit cards on most occasions.
  6. Watch the Weather: Tropical regions like Veracruz experience hefty storms and hurricanes. The only way to avoid them is by keeping yourself updated with weather conditions in the state. You can keep updated with real-time weather in Veracruz by visiting The Weather Channel.
  7. Purchase Anti-Theft Bags: Anti-theft bags are a plausible investment for in-state visits like crowded areas, markets, or festivals. This will keep your valuables away from the harms of pickpocketing thefts.
  8. Learn Useful Spanish Phrases: Learning basic Spanish phrases is essential when visiting Veracruz. It’s a tourist-friendly region, but not everybody speaks English. Therefore, such endeavors will surely come in handy while dealing with public or local authorities.
  9. Stay Hydrated: Being a tropical state, Veracruz has a hot and humid climate. It is one of the essential safety tips to keep a bottle of water close by, drink (water) often, and avoid heatstroke.
  10. Travel in Groups at Night: The nightlife in Veracruz is definitely tempting, but it also carries some dangers, especially for solo travel. It’s always recommended to go out in groups, stay in populated areas with good lighting, and avoid poorly lit areas.
  11. Food Safety: Veracruz brings a diverse culture of various cuisines. But tourists should consider food safety and follow up with increased caution. They should avoid downtown areas because of unhygienic conditions.

FAQs

Is Veracruz Mexico safe for American tourists?

Yes, Veracruz Mexico is moderately safe for American tourists. The state comprises a great roadmap. However, it is recommended by the US Department of State to practice caution due to the state’s crime rate index being 49%.

Is Veracruz Mexico a good place to live?

Living in Veracruz Mexico depends upon your personal preference. You can enjoy its beautiful beaches and delve into its vibrant culture and friendly neighborhood. But, you can also face security concerns like cartel wars and theft.

Is Veracruz safe for expats?

Yes, Veracruz is moderately safe for expats. The state has a safety index of around 51% according to Numbeo. It is recommended to keep alert and exercise normal precautions·

Conclusion

Let’s briefly summarize the facts! Is Veracruz Mexico safe for tourists? The state encompasses a crime rate index of 49%. This indicates that the state is moderately safe for travelers. However, you should still exercise caution about common crimes like cartel violence, kidnappings, fraud, and petty theft.

You should also remember that “Exercise increased caution” is advised by the US government for visiting Veracruz due to an increased rate of violent crime in the past years. Dangerous areas like Coatzacoalcos and Poza Rica are best avoided. You should explore safer tourist areas including Merida, San Andrés Tuxtla, and El Carrizal which are quite popular tourist destinations·

For people fond of nightlife experiences, traveling in groups is necessary in tourist areas for increased safety. Last but not least, visitors exercise normal precautions like getting insurance, avoiding drugs, using credit cards, and keeping hydrated to experience the most Veracruz has to offer!