For many years, border towns were safe and attractive places for tourists to visit and get a taste of foreign culture, food, shopping and nightlife. Today, these towns have a very different image that is often overshadowed by violence and crime happening on the border. Here are the 8 most dangerous border towns:
- El Paso: The West Texas city of El Paso shares a border with Ciudad Juarez in Chihuahua, Mexico, which is the most dangerous city in Mexico and one of the worst in the world. In recent years, the violence in Juarez has begun to spill over to the U.S. side, endangering El Paso residents, law enforcement officers and first responders. Juarez is a battleground for drug-related violence and these gangs have shown no mercy to Americans. In 2010, stray bullets from a gun battle in Juarez struck El Paso’s city hall and a university building, causing police to shut down a major border highway.
- San Diego: Along the border of San Diego, California, lies Tijuana, one of the most dangerous and violent cities in Mexico. Tijuana’s drug and human trafficking rings have infiltrated into San Diego, resulting in several homicides and kidnappings every year. Gun battles between drug cartels and auto theft crimes are also very common along the border. Another concern along the San Diego-Tijuana border is the brutal raping of women and young girls by human smugglers.
- Calexico: Calexico, California, rests on the border of Mexicali in Baja California, Mexico. Calexico has more than 60,000 people pass through the town every day. Drug smuggling is a major issue in Calexico, where numerous smuggling tunnels have been discovered and ultralight planes have been seen dropping bins of marijuana on to the American side. One of Calexico’s most dangerous spots is the All American Canal, which is three miles from the U.S. Port of Entry at Calexico. Every year dozens of illegal aliens drown trying to cross this dangerous body of water and enter America. Border Patrol agents are often assaulted when trying to rescue illegal aliens along the canal.
- Brownsville: Brownsville, Texas, lies across the border from Matamoros, Tamaulipas in Mexico, where drug wars and violence have become more and more common. This city’s proximity to Mexico has caused several problems along the border, including gun battles that have struck buildings at The University of Texas at Brownsville and forced police to shut down border crossing bridges. Brownsville also sees its fair share of drug, weapon and human trafficking crimes across the border.
- Columbus: The small town of Columbus, New Mexico, shares a border with Puerto Palomas in Chihuahua, Mexico. In recent years, Columbus has become a breeding ground for organized crime, where an estimated 10 percent of the 2,000-person population may be involved in illegal activity. Drug smugglers have made their homes here and the town’s small police force is scandal-ridden and constantly in disarray. This was made obvious in March, when the mayor of Columbus, the town’s police chief and the village trustee were among several city officials indicted for trafficking firearms to Mexico.
- Laredo: Laredo is a South Texas city located on the north bank of the Rio Grande that borders Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, Mexico. For many years, Laredo has been the target of cartel violence and drug trafficking for Mexican gangs, and has added ransom kidnappings, a high speed chase and a record-breaking weapons bust to the list of criminal activities happening there. In 2010, the U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo was damaged from an explosive that was thrown over the wall by Mexican gang members.
- Nogales: Nogales, Arizona, shares a border with Nogales in Sonora, Mexico. The Mexican city of Nogales is ridden with violence and gang activity, which has managed to creep into the U.S. side over the last few years. The ongoing fight for control of drug trafficking routes along the U.S.-Mexico border has put Nogales, Arizona residents in greater danger. Last year, an Arizona rancher was killed on his property by a Mexican smuggler, and a massive gang-related gun battle broke out near the border, killing 21 people and wounding six.
- McAllen: McAllen is located at the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and is five miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. There lies the Mexican city of Reynosa in Tamaulipas, which is notorious for drug trafficking and border violence. In 2008, one of Mexico’s most brutal drug cartels, Los Zetas, found its way into McAllen to regain control of drug trafficking routes in America. Mexican gang reinforcements have led to increased drug smuggling, money laundering, arms trafficking and immigration problems in McAllen