One of the biggest threats when traveling in Mexico is exposure while driving on the highways. Specifically, there have been a number of attacks by drug cartels on vehicles traveling on highways on the east and west coasts of Mexico.
The major problem to the traveler when on the highways is the occasional military or law enforcement security checkpoint. Although there are legitimate checkpoints, many are set up by cartels that are wearing police or military uniforms and who are using the check points to execute an attack.
The following are guidelines we give our Clients are they travel through Mexico:
- Avoid travel at night.
- Consider using a low profile armoured vehicle. Armoured vehicles do not guarantee 100% protection, but a Level 4 or 5 armouring will allow you to gain some time to get out of the attack.
- Do not use a Suburban (SUV-type vehicle) outside of major urban areas – the cartels are looking to carjack any armoured vehicles.
- Have GPS on your vehicle so someone can monitor your location.
For a legitimate checkpoint:
- Be aware of the signs indicating that there is a road block ahead (usually they will have one sign at 500, 200 and 100 meters.)
- Identify the authorities that are performing the vehicle verification.
- Slow down.
- If travelling at night, turn off your headlight and turn on your cabin lights.
- If there are several cars waiting, you must keep your place in line.
- Proceed to a full stop in the area designated by the security personnel.
- Once in full stop, the driver must keep the hand on the wheel and wait for instructions.
- Follow all the instructions by the security personnel.
- If required, the driver and passenger must descend from the vehicle.
- When indicated, the driver should descend from the vehicle and open the trunk, glove compartment, doors, luggage and other parts of the car as indicated.
- Get back to the vehicle when indicated and follow your route.
If you are not sure if it is a legitimate check point:
- Have a high level of security alertness.
- Proceed with caution and slowly go to the check point area but keep your doors and windows locked.
- Look to see if they are checking other vehicles – this will be an indicator of a legitimate check point.
- Have your passports in the front of the car so that you can show them and get back on the road as fast as possible. They may only want to see your identification and not search the car.
- Contact family members prior to entering the security check point and give them the location of the check point.
- Time, Speed, & Distance – If an attack occurs get out of the “Kill Zone” by moving as fast as you can: create as much distance from the attackers, in the fastest amount of time.