The crime rate against Americans and other expats in the state of Yucatan is pretty much zero. The Yucatan is the safest state in all of Mexico. We have virtually problems at all. For all of 2014, there was something in the area of one murder in all of Merida, which has about a million inhabitants, and is the largest city in the state of Yucatan.
The only crime problems we have here are petty theft and most of those are because the person didn’t use common sense. For example, some people may be sitting in their yard, having a beer or a glass of wine and all of a sudden, they need to run to the store and get six more beers or a bottle of wine. They hop in their car and go to town, leaving their phones or a laptop on a lawn table, which would be gone when they return. That happens in the US or anywhere in the world. You just have to use a little common sense.
One of the reasons why the crime rate is so incredibly low in the state of Yucatan is there’s a very strong police force there. So for example, when you go to the bank, more than likely there’s going to be a policemen standing out in front with their machine guns. They don’t harass anyone or bother anyone but they have a presence there so if someone is thinking of robbing a bank and escaping through to the front door and they see two police officers with Uzis, they would probably decide it’s not a good idea. Merida has a large city police force that patrols the area. In the course of a normal day in Merida, you will probably see 30 to 40 police officers. They don’t harass people. If you need something, they help you. But on the other hand, if someone wants to cause a problem, they’re there immediately to resolve the problem, which has a big bearing on the fact that there’s not a lot of criminal activity because the chances of getting away with it are pretty slim with that kind of police force.
When I first moved here, I thought that the very visible police force meant that there was a lot of crime here, which is what a lot of my clients think as well, when they first come here. But once you understand the mentality here, that the police are present in order to let everyone know, “We’re here and we’re watching out for you,” you can appreciate it, see that it works, and it makes sense. As far as violence or police shooting people, that’s unheard of here.
In my opinion, the crime situation is totally different in the state of Yucatan than it is in the other large state in Yucatan, Quintana Roo. (Quintana Roo is the state in the Yucatan Peninsula that has Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and other areas generally called “Riveria Maya.”) One of the biggest problems with the Cancun and Playa del Carmen areas is that that’s where many of the cartels are and where the drug trade is big. So when you get involved with the cartel and the drug trade, and there are millions of dollars involved, that’s a whole different ball game. And of course with the cartel, they’re pretty ruthless people, they have their business going and they don’t want anyone to interrupt it, which is a completely different story here in the state of the Yucatan, because we don’t have that drug problem here at all, and therefore, we don’t have the cartel problem here.
In the state of Yucatan, we have the big police force and they have been trained to spot something that doesn’t look like it belongs here. If you’re in Merida in your new BMW or new Mercedes, and you have Quintana Roo plates on your car, more than likely you might get pulled over for a road check and the police are going to ask you where you’re from, why are you here, are you here to visit someone, and so forth. While they’re doing this, they’re looking at your vehicle, they’re looking inside of it, and they’ll look in your trunk. What they’re doing is making sure that you’re not trying to bring drugs to Yucatan.
Another thing that is hard to verify and may or may not be true (but seems plausible) is one of the reasons that people don’t have a drug or crime problem here in the state of Yucatan is because the families of the cartel live here in Yucatan because they feel so safe and feel there’s not going to be any problems in Yucatan
I feel much safer in the state of Yucatan than in the state of Quintana Roo. In Quintana Roo, there’s the influence of the drug cartel, and everything revolves around the tourist industry so there’s all kinds of street hustlers. As opposed to this, I like a nice laid back lifestyle where I don’t have people harassing me. In my opinion, the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo are totally different worlds even though they border each other and the main population areas are just hours away.
(Suburban street in Merida, Mexico pictured.)