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How safe is San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico


Is it Safe to Travel in Sonora?

Safety Update: January 2014

Traveling south of the border has always had its inherent risks. In many ways Mexico is still a developing nation, and rich gringos who flaunt their affluence may become targets for crime. Crimes against tourists are still very rare however, as most Mexicans welcome visitors and public places are typically well protected.
However, since Mexican President Felipe Calderon began a war on illicit drug trafficking in December of 2006, more than 25,000 people have been killed in related violence and many areas of the nation have literally become war zones.

News stories have portrayed horrific acts of violence, usually committed between members of one cartel and another, between cartel members and police, or, more recently, murders of political figures and government officials by the drug cartels.

Sonora’s location as a border state with the United States and its having a highway route west to Tijuana and California have made it one of the primary routes for transporting drugs from southern Mexico to the United States.

As such, there have been violent incidents reported in Sonora. It is important to note though, that the level of violence has not been anywhere near the levels experienced in places like Ciudad Juarez and the Texas/Chihuahua border, or in other states like Nuevo Leon and Michoacan. It’s not out of control. Also, conflicts in Sonora have been limited to violence between cartels, or between criminals and law enforcement.

That said though, the potential for danger and violence is still a concern. We are frequent visitors to Sonora, and have not felt threatened in any way, although the heightened presence of federal police and military can be a bit unnerving.

Sonora is a beautiful place with rich culture and beautiful, friendly people. However, making the decision of whether to visit depends on your own tolerance for risk. If you’d prefer to sit at home and look at the pictures of Sonora, that’s fine. If at any time we feel that it is particularly unsafe to visit any part of (or all of) Sonora, we’ll place travel advisories without hesitation.

Current Travel Advisories


  1. Dawn says:

    I recently drove down to San Carlos from Tucson by myself. I am a 58 year old female & actually felt very comfortable on the 4 lane hwy all the way down. My husband & I have been going down to our beach house for about 5 years with no trouble. The Mexican people are great & the beaches are beautiful.

  2. Lori says:

    I was invited to to San Carlos. my concern is crossing the border at Nogales and driving to San Carlos. once in San Carlos I believe it is safe. what are the conditions and safety factors for the Nogales border and highway to San Carlos?

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  5. I plan on spending 2 months March and April in a gate condo in playas de Tijuana -= what has been going on there in terms of murders or robberies, it would make me feel better knowing the dangers.

  6. Darrin Jones says:

    I have crossed the Border at Nogales, Naco (South of Bisbee) and Agua Prieta more than 20 times during 2010 and the first 1/3 of 2011. I have driven all over the state and have to say that other than Topes (speed bumps) and livestock on the roads, there is little need to worry about safety while driving around Sonora. On Highway 15 from Nogales to Hermosillo and points South, there are even “Green Angels” that will change a tire for you, fix a broken water hose, repair/replace a broken belt – all at “NO CHARGE”.
    While on the U.S. side of the Border, you will find numerous speed traps and rude Immigration Agents at checkpoints willing to detain you and even demand to see your papers if you look at all Hispanic, or maybe even if you don’t. Mexico is FAR safer than the United States as a whole; It took more than four years for the “Drug War” to have a body count that equaled the United States annual kill rate by hand guns alone. Yet, our Border Agents are decked out in Kevlar and body armor and fully automated weapons ready to stare you down and question your sanity for going to visit Mexico. They will even make senior citizen groups leave their tour bus and walk a football field away, just so they can use their newest toy, a portable vehicle X-ray mobile (that scans vehicles for Guns, ammo or money).
    They do not want U.S. Citizens to know how nice, tranquil, safe and relaxed it is down here. The government is afraid of the economic effects of a mass exodus or retirees. Heaven forbid they might realize how much better the health system is down here and that could seriously disrupt our Health Services Economy Sector. It is just easier for them to paint the whole country with a black brush and sensationalize what is going on over there. It keeps folks distracted about what is going on in their own town and makes them easier to control. After all, aren’t scared and confused people easier to manipulate than enlightened, confident and independent people?

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