Mexico Travel Advice
Three women and six children, who had dual US-Mexican citizenship, were killed in an attack as they drove on a rural road between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua in northern Mexico on Monday 4 November. They were travelling in a convoy of three vehicles. Eight other children managed to escape, six of them wounded. The victims were members of the Mexican-American LeBaron, Langford, Miller and Johnson families, members of breakaway Mormon communities that settled in northern Mexico some decades ago.
The head of the Mexican military’s joint chiefs of staff, Homero Mendoza, said the authorities believe the massacre was perpetrated by La Linea, a drug cartel based in the state of Chihuahua. Investigations indicated the group had sent a squadron to the mountainous region where the attack occurred to fend off potential incursions by a rival gang, Los Salazar, which is based in Sonora, after recent clashes between the two.
For decades Mexico has been home to powerful criminal groups smuggling cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States, the world’s largest consumer for illegal drugs. These groups do not just deal in drugs but also engage in extortion, money laundering, contract killings and gruesome practices, particularly in turf wars against rival gangs.
Over half a million British nationals visit Mexico every year, almost all without incident. Drug-related violence in Mexico tends to be concentrated in very specific areas.
The safety of our travellers is our highest priority. Revealed Travel continue to monitor events in Mexico closely. We maintain regular contact with our ground agents in the country to ensure passengers are safe. The latest reports we have received from northern Mexico are that the Copper Canyon railway is running as normal and that services for passengers in Los Mochis and Chihuahua are operating as usual.
Mexico’s “war on drugs” was launched in December 2006 by the then-president Felipe Calderón. By the end of his six-year term of office, some 120,000 people had been killed. In 2012, Calderon’s successor Enrique Pena Nieto attempted to deescalate the conflict by arresting or killing the most-wanted drug lords and intercepting their drug shipments. But in the first 14 months of his administration a further 23,640 people had been killed in the conflict. The capture of the leader of the Sinaloa cartel Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán was welcomed but his subsequent escape from the Altiplano maximum security prison in 2015 sparked international ridicule and criticism.
Current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took office in December 2018. On 30 January 2019 López Obrador declared the end of the Mexican war on drugs.
In October 2019 one of El Chapo’s sons, Ovidio Guzmán López, was freed on the orders of the Mexican government after Sinaloa cartel gunmen flooded the city of Culiacán and surrounded security forces to press for their boss’s release. Lopez Obrador defended the move, stating this action had prevented a bloodbath.