Rocky Point Travel Tips
Is there Violence on the Road to Rocky Point?
Traveling in Mexico is Safe. For those uninitiated to driving in Mexico, we want to provide you with some insightful information on road conditions, signage and useful travel safety tips when traveling to Puerto Penasco, Rocky Point, Mexico We hope to dispel some of the violence myths of travel in Mexico.
Violence on the Way To Penasco?
There has been much news in the American press of violence along the U.S./Mexican border associated with the Mexican drug cartel and the Mexican Government’s war on drugs. It’s my opinion that the press have sensationalized the drug related violence. While unarguably Mexico does face sever challenges in border towns such as Juarez and Tijuana, Puerto Penasco and Sonoyta have not experienced the violent drug wars.
Our family has been traveling to Puerto Penasco, Mexico for just over 5 years, twice a month and have not experienced any highway viloence or problems.. Law enforcement officials do show a substantial presence in both Sonoyta and Puerto Penasco. Local and national Mexican officials do understand that Rocky Point is a tourist destination and that tourism is the driving force in the local economy. So our recommendation is to leave your fears in the States, but don’t leave your brains at the border. If you obey the Mexican laws, don’t do anything stupid, and use common sense, you will have a safe trip to Puerto Penasco, Mexico.
Check Points and Traffic Stops in Mexico
To assist the Mexican Government in its war on drugs, the U.S. is playing a significant role in the support of Mexico’s effort to reduce drug violence along the U.S./Mexico border. Guns are illegal in Mexico. They have to be smuggled into Mexico. Mexican authorities have tracked guns used in drug related crimes in Mexico as originating from the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has recently implemented a program to help interdict the flow of guns and ammunition crossing south into Mexico. At the Lukeville/Sonoyta border on the U.S. side you will be stopped by armed U.S. Homeland Security Agents. When stopped role down your windows. The agents take a quick peek inside your vehicle, ask you a few questions and then wave you through. They will ask you if you are carrying guns, ammunition and/or $10,000 dollars or more in cash. They will ask to look inside your vehicle and ask you where in Mexico you will be traveling. On one occasion I had my glove compartment searched. When the U.S. Agents have decided you are the average “Joe”, they will allow you to pass over the border into Mexico.
When you cross into Mexico you could be stopped at several checkpoints throughout your journey. You may be stopped initially at the border entry in Sonoyta as part of a routine customs inspection. They may ask you for your vehicle registration, Mexican insurance and what items you are bring into Mexico. Watch the above video on our experience driving from Phoenix to Puerto Penasco.
Mexican Military Check Points
For it’s part, Mexico has stepped up it’s efforts to reduce drug related crime and help keep your drive to Puerto Penasco safe and enjoyable. Local, state, and federal police as well as the Mexican Military, usually Mexican Marines and Army, will set up random check points on route 8 to Rocky Point. Usually the check points will be put in place during holidays or the high tourist season. We have experienced check points leaving Sonoyta, on the road between Sonoyta and Rocky Point, and upon entering Puerto Peņasco. Steph and I have also witnessed the Puerto Penasco police step up random check point in various parts of Puerto Penasco.
Mexican Law Enforcement Searches
While initially intimidating, the law enforcement officials conducting the searches are there for your safety. If it’s a military check point the soldiers may wear masks to conceal their identity and will carry army style automatic assault rifles. It’s been our experience that when we have been stopped the officials have been very polite. They will ask you to step out of the vehicle. They will conduct their search looking in the vehicle, under the seats, in the trunk. In some cases they will search your belongings. If all is well, and, you haven’t left your brains at the border, you will be on your way with a polite wave. If they find something illegal, it’s on to the paddy wagon, literary an army style personal carrier which is sitting on the side of the road. Incidentally they may also just be stopping you to give you some hand sanitizer - seriously! Don’t know if it’s a public relation gimmick or they seriously think that will help to stop the spread of swine flu.
For Americans who are unaccustomed to seeing federal law enforcement or the U.S. Military on the streets conducting search operations, the experience at the sight of Mexican check points can, at times, seem surreal and incomprehensible. For what it’s worth, the check points become routine and you accept it for what it is. They are there for your safety.
Sonoyta Speed Trap/DUI Check Point
The most common check point upon leaving Sonoyta is the dreaded speed trap. The Sonoyta police will stand in middle of the road with a radar gun, and before you even see the police, they are flagging you down to give you a speeding ticket, very sneaky and very effective - our advice - go the speed limit in town.
On occasion you’ll encounter a typical DUI check point similar to the U.S. check points. You’ll role down your window, law enforcement will observe if you are under the influence, ask if you have been drinking or have open beer cans. If all is well, you’ll be on your way. If you are DUI, you’re onto the paddy wagon. Remember, in the States you can’t have an open beer can in a car, same goes too in Mexico.
Enjoy your trip!
Kyle and Steph