HOUSTON, TX-- We all saw the Mexican polícia take down El Chapo Guzmán, the big Mexican drug lord. So does that mean it's now safe to travel to Mexico?
Not exactly. This week, the U.S. State Department renewed their Mexican travel warning, saying Americans are at risk of being murdered, carjacked or kidnapped in many spots south of the border.
Ana Gallegos travels back and forth between Houston and Mexico frequently. Her daughter owns Cuchara Mexican restaurant in Montrose. "I live in Mexico City, and I feel safer here. I have to say that," she says, "because Mexico is kind of a little troubled country."
Yeah, we'd say so. About 200 U.S. citizens were murdered there since 2013. Ana says the southern states are pretty safe, but she would never travel along the border. "Because of the drug dealers, she says, "If you are in the wrong place at the wrong moment, they can confuse you, thinking you are part of... whatever. So it's better to not be in their territory."
Ana adds she never drives to Mexico. She only flies, and for good reason. "Especially at night, they can put barricades or something so that you have to stop and that's the time where they can hurt you."
The State Department suggests if you must make the trip, keep a low profile. Don't advertise your wealth. Ana agrees, "If I go to a wedding or some special event, then I put my gold or diamonds or whatever. But for every day, no. Never!"
She suggests only staying in nice hotels, not going anywhere alone after dark, and sticking with tour guides, adding you should never venture out on your own if you don't speak the language. She says Mexicans will recognize you immediately as a tourist, and that opens the door for them to take advantage or worse.
Crime happens everywhere, but Mexico is a place where even the locals keep their guard up. If you travel there, make sure you do, too. Your life could depend on it.