Nuevo Laredo - Post Report Question and Answers

Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

The elephant in the room is the Cartel. This is a high-risk post for a reason. While I was posted there, the consulate was attacked, as was one of the consulate family homes. The bullet holes in the glass was a long term reminder of the real dangers of the post. Nobody was hurt, and the consulate security posture was adjusted in response. You will never be all the way safe here, but the measures put in place are reasonable, and deter/minimize the threat. Also, In my opinion the consulate community is safer than the locals, but this is just an individual opinion. In terms of lower level crime like mugging, pickpocketing, car break ins, home break ins, we had no issues, and I don't think there really is a big risk of this kind of thing. For perspective, I felt safer in my day-to-day life in Nuevo Laredo than I did in China Town in Washington, DC. There is a hard no-go outside of an area around the consulate of a few square miles. You cannot drive to the airport, nor use the highway to Monterrey without making arrangements with the security team at post. Summary: I think most Americans are over-hyped about the threat of cartel in these kinds of places. That doesn't mean that the threat isn't real, but that it can, and is, mitigated reasonably well. - Dec 2022

This border town is a key corridor for smuggling operations into the US. Cartels fight over it, and the Mexican military fights the cartels. (The local police are intimidated, rightly so, by the cartels that offer "plata or plomo" -- take the cash or get a bullet.) There are regular gunfights, chases, kidnappings, etc. However, the good news is that no one is targeting Consulate personnel, in fact they really do not want to make trouble for us. (Expat businesspeople known to be wealthy can be kidnapping targets, however.) The main risk to us is blundering into a bad situation. We alert each other via WhatsApp about developing situations ("I heard gunshots") and travel around the city in pairs or small groups if possible (upside: forces our small community to do things together!). Homes have alarms and roving patrols, but weird things happen in the neighborhoods, and there is a sense of tension and danger. Important to "escape" to the US regularly -- fortunately this is quite easy. - Jun 2018

I think you know the answer to that. Constant shootings that you can hear from home of drug gangs fighting military. I wouldn't get out of my area, not even by mistake.... - Apr 2017

Yes. There is a drug war going on. - Feb 2016

Definitely - it's the border! We have curfew for a reason. Just stay alert, sharpen your situational awareness skills, don't be flashy, remember to lock your doors, etc. We are not targeted directly so the real issue would be being at the wrong place at the wrong time. There was a shooting not too long ago close to the Consulate between alcones (TCO spotters) and the federal police. Only the bad guys were killed and no innocent bystanders were hit, so it turned out okay. - Dec 2015

It can be a very dangerous place. You have be street smart around here. You know, doors locked, alert at all times and don't talk to strangers. We stick together when we go out; it's not recommended to go out alone. The violence is random and unpredictable and normally not targeted at the USG directly. - Jun 2014

It is very dangerous because of the drug-related violence: grenades explode routinely around the city, including near and at the grocery stores in town. Gunfights can happen anywhere, as can kidnappings, robberies, etc. While has nothing happened to me personally, it really wears on you -- always being worried about being carjacked or robbed at the store. - Feb 2013

We are a danger pay post for a reason. The war between the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel continues to rage. The gunbattles can occur anywhere in the city at any time of the day or night. There are now about 1000 federal forces in the city and they keep things from getting too out of control, but security is the principal issue we all deal with. - Nov 2011

This topic is my main reason for sending in this mini-report. It's been nearly three years since someone posted the last report on Nuevo Laredo. Comments in the last report such as "Welcome to Baghdad of the Border" are perhaps witty but are grossly, absurdly inaccurate. Please actually talk with someone here and get information that's not years old if you're considering coming here. Everybody will be happy to speak with you and give personal impressions of the place. And don't make the mistake of generalizing all of Mexico. Security varies from one city to another, just as it does in the U.S. Please just call someone here and get up-to-date opinions and information on security and every other topic. - Feb 2009

Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More