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Old 11-24-2007, 10:49 AM   #1
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Warning down in Baja

Just came back from an awesome Thanksgiving camping in my 95 RB E350 in Carlsbad. The camp hosts take surf tours down to Baja regularily and ran into some SERIOUS issues with vigilantes taking tourist by gun point. These unfortunate philanthropist were with a large group when they were awaken with a bullet round through their motor home. They were held down at gun point, raped, and all valuables were stolen. They survived. Once home they hit the media hard to get the word out on CNN and local TV. I understand they were off the beaten path like we sportsmobilers like to do. But BEWARE! These rogue band of land pirates are feeding off our naive -like nature. So, this story and many others are surfacing. This is not the first I've heard. Please be careful, and stay behind gaurded enclosures or in well known travel destinations when headed south of the border. This will eventually hurt Mexico in the $$ if they dont get a handle on it. Please be safe, and have fun out there where ever you are! As I type from the fire station in Los Angeles..... Malibu is burning. Bye for now. C
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Old 11-24-2007, 01:26 PM   #2
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The forums over at BajaNomad have been following this incident and quite a few others in detail. Sounds like the Wild West down there this year.

http://forums.bajanomad.com/forumdisplay.php?fid=4
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Old 11-24-2007, 02:55 PM   #3
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Don't tell me that anyone camping in Baja is not carryng some large caliber protection? You're insane not to.
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Old 11-24-2007, 02:58 PM   #4
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That totally sucks.

This is one of the reasons I go to Mexico as seldom as I can. These criminals know that Americans are not allowed to bring any effective personal self-protection into Mexico. So they see a vehicle with American plates, they know you won't be fighting back.

Edit do add: You can't bring any firearms or ammunition into Mexico. To get caught doing so means years of hard time in a Mexican prison.
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Old 11-24-2007, 05:33 PM   #5
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lowman,

You're right. I never travel to Mexico. There are so many endless wonderful places in the states and to the north. Why risk it?

However, I know of a few fine members of this forum that frequent Mexico, and have been free of incidents (so far!). That story is a rare event, I'm sure.
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Old 11-24-2007, 08:05 PM   #6
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Jeffrey, it appears that violent robberies and car jackings are no longer rare in northern Baja, or even in southern Baja. I haven't traveled down there in decades, but I've been reading up in preparation for a trip in the next year or two, and the level of violence has really spiked in this past year.

Some old baja hands say it's increased police corruption, increased reporting of incidents or increased drug activity, especially with meth. Up here in the frozen north, violent meth crimes spiked a year or two ago, and have decreased a bit due to the limitations on sales of over the counter cold medicines, which are used as the precursors to meth. As a result, much of the meth production has left the rural US for Mexico.

It's been a bit creepy over the last three or four years here with increased DEA funding to have county sheriffs sweep Forest Service campgrounds for mobile meth labs on weekends. I've tried to tell the sherriff deputies that inspecting campgrounds during 9 to 5 office hours doesn't help much, but that they need to come back at night when really strange things can happen.

One of the major reasons that we bought an SMB a year ago was to avoid the strange campground party scene here in the Northern Rockies.
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Old 11-24-2007, 10:03 PM   #7
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I've spent a lot of time in Baja riding motorcycles and have enjoyed every minute. But my last trip down there was 3-4 years ago. No more. No way I'd travel down there now. The cops have always been corrupt in Baja, but that usually meant you pay $40-$50 to settle your ticket on the spot, not robbery at gunpoint. The cops have generally not engaged in the sort of violent crime that has become far more common in Baja. I do a lot of business in Mexico and subscribe to a research firm that tries to objectively track and monitor criminal activity in Baja and elsewhere in Mexico. Things have gotten quite ugly over the past two years with a large increase in violent crime. They attribute this to the Pres. Calderon's very aggressive stance against the narco gangs. He is using the military and police to crack down on them, for the first time in decades. The predictable result is a surge in territorial violence and retribution killing. The nationwide body count per week is staggering. The govt. crack down does seem to be working, however, and one result is that the the major cartels are being forced into new areas. Bottom line is that is has become more difficult to make a living as a drug thug in Mexico. Long term this is a very good thing for Mexico. But one result is that the drug thugs are being forced to seek easier targets of opportunity. Tourists in Baja fit this profile perfectly. They have cash and many other objects that can be easily fenced. And as noted, they have zero means of defence. The word is clearly out on this and I'm sure the negative economic impact on tourism will generate a strong response. But problems like this are complex and can't be fixed quickly. So until things change, I'll stay away from Baja.
Rob
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Old 11-25-2007, 08:51 AM   #8
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the protection that you speak of no matter how large the firepower does you no good if you're awaken with a pistol to your head or caught by surprise in the middle of the night

best to prepare for the worst and plan ahead, maybe set up a perimeter to alert of intrusion so as to give you time to react to the situation at hand
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Old 11-25-2007, 10:39 AM   #9
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Good point about the sneak attack. Definitely prepare for the worst. A dog comes to mind as a great proximity alarm system. But if the thieves and rapers know you have no firearms and they have firearms, they can come up as noisily as they like, and as slowly as they like, and do with you what they will, on their terms. Not a situation I will put myself or my family into. The California or other U.S. state plates announce to the bad guys, "we are defenseless."
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Old 11-26-2007, 06:44 PM   #10
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Well, I'm one the members on this forum who has traveled in Baja quite a bit. In fact, our Baja camping is one of the reasons we purchased our SMB. I should also mention that we have never had a problem down there, unless painfully long border waits count. I honestly felt safer in Baja than the US. Sure, I realized there was a risk of having to pay a "police bribe", but that was the worst of it. Furthermore, I always felt that once we got South of Ensensada, the worst of it was over.

With that being said, things have definitely gone downhill recently. It is no longer a couple of isolated incidents. I do think that Rob summed up the situation quite well. I also know that we will not be going down to Baja for a while until we hear of some more positive news.

Here is a recent articles about what has been happening. I personally know of another car jacking that wasn't reported.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/mexi ... 4baja.html
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/mexi ... 9baja.html

It seems like this is only a problem on the pacific side of Baja...at least for now. I'm looking forward to hearing Scatter's impressions of all of this since he lives down on the East side of Baja part time. Finally, to echo what others have already said, you absolutely cannot bring a firearm into Mexico. That is what they check for (along with drugs) and the various checkpoints.
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