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Spring Break destinations in Mexico prepare to host U.S. visitors weighing travel concerns

Deadly kidnapping in state of Tamaulipas prompted new State Dept. warnings; Sonora state leaders say police on different government levels prepared to keep Puerto Peñasco safe
Posted: 9:09 AM, Mar 22, 2023
Updated: 2023-03-22 12:09:04-04
Rocky Point.jpg

TUCSON, Ariz. -- (KGUN) — Heading into the spring break season, many Arizonans will be packing the car and spending a few days on the beaches at Puerto Peñasco, known in English as 'Rocky Point.'

That tradition for families in the region will clash with the latest recommendations from the U.S. Department of State. Agency leaders say that warning applies particularly in the wake of the deadly kidnapping of four U.S. citizens in the state of Tamaulipas nearly three weeks ago.

While the State Department still has Tamaulipas listed in its red category for "do not travel," Sonora is in the 'orange' category, one level below. With this designation, DOS still recommends travelers reconsider their trips, spring break or otherwise.

David Figueroa, the State of Sonora's representative working in Phoenix, said he acknowledges there are stories of violent crime that are confirmed in his state. Figueroa countered that, however, the same risk for crime applies to cities in the U.S.

Figueroa also cited data, reported for years by the Arizona Department of Transportation, saying more than 20 million people have crossed between Arizona and Sonora in recent years — with the overwhelming majority doing so safely.

"I would say that with coordination between all three levels of government, it leads to Governor [Alfonso] Durazo having confidence that Sonora is a safe state, a state that people can visit," Figueroa said.

The Department of State's website suggests there are still reasons for vacation goers and visitors to stay alert.

"Reconsider travel due to crime and kidnapping.

"Sonora is a key location used by the international drug trade and human trafficking networks."

—U.S. Department of State

Data website El collects numbers from the Mexican Justice System and the country's National Institute of Statistics and Geography.
Based on available numbers, Sonora has a homicide rate of 53.2 per 100,000 peoplem sixth-highest of Mexico's 32 states.

Source: El Crimen

When it comes to crimes like kidnapping and extortion, however, Sonora ranks low in recorded cases and has shown a downward trend in recent years.

José Zozaya is an anchor and reporter for KGUN 9. Before arriving in southern Arizona, José worked in Omaha, Nebraska where he covered issues ranging from local, state and federal elections, to toxic chemical spills, and community programs impacting immigrant families. Share your story ideas and important issues with José by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.