49 bodies were found in the state of Monterrey, Mexico. They'd been decapitated, mutilated. The drug cartel Zetas claimed responsibility.
Every time something like this happens, it reinforces people's fears of traveling to Mexico. It is too dangerous (peligroso)!
In our local expat email newsletter someone posted a link to a Lonely Planet blog post about the safety of traveling in Mexico: Are Americans Safer at Home than in Mexico. I recommend the article and the comments from gringos who live and travel in Mexico. But I had to laugh at one comment by someone from Oregon who said that in Mexico they've not experienced any crime whatsoever - no burglaries, murders, etc. I so badly wanted to post a response but had a problem creating an account so I'll respond here.
No robberies or burglaries? Are you kidding me? Things are stolen all the time. But does it happen more here than in any neighborhood in the U.S. where you have the homes of wealthy people abutting homes of poor people? I'd say it's about the same. That's why people in the U.S. live in gated communities or have home security systems. Most of the thieving is of small items - shoes, shiny objects, beach chairs - but some can be major like having all the copper stripped from your home. (I know from news accounts that that is a problem in Tucson. Not sure about other parts of the U.S.)
Just the other day a friend's camouflage crocs were stolen. He always leaves his shoes outside his trailer door and, no, he didn't think the dogs had taken them. During happy hour our security guard pulled up on his bicycle and asked if we'd seen P. around, the amputee in the wheelchair, because he thinks P. stole them. Okay, so he thinks the shoes were stolen by a guy with no feet. That's possible. I guess he could've stolen them to sell. But for him to maneuver the wheelchair around all the tables and grills and planters on the patio would be quite a feat even for someone with feet.
Last night P. approached us in his wheelchair wanting to sell some pearls. "Let's see if he's wearing your crocs," I joked. He wasn't. But where's his fancy motorized wheelchair some gringo gave him? I don't know. That's probably another interesting story.
Now this brings me to our security guard. If you want someone to stay up all night patrolling the grounds, best to hire a drug addict and best if he's addicted to a speed-like drug. Our security guard's drug seems to be meth - he's got all the signs from toothlessness to skin eruptions to paranoia. I've heard a couple scary stories about our security guard from a man who's known him for years. The first story is that he tried to murder his girlfriend by burning her up in their trailer. The other story is that he was friends with a gringo who disappeared and he somehow gained possession of the gringo's possessions, his home and property.
Recently our security guard had a puppy. He tortured the puppy and the puppy was taken away. This is not the first time he's abused an animal.
Some little boys came into the park and he shot them with rocks from his slingshot. Turned out one of the boy's parents were paid guests at the park. They left in a huff. I said, "You can't go around shooting little kids just because they're playing in the park."
So that's our security guard.
As far as I know the most serious crimes committed in our little town this past snowbird season were committed by a gringo - the two counts of attempted murder by my neighbor. Oh yeah, and pedophiles. We've had our share of those and thankfully we got rid of our resident pedophile.
I'll conclude by saying Mexico is safe. Just stay away from gringos and don't piss off your security guard.