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Just in case you were considering making a wrong decision…



CRIMINAL PENALTIES AND TREATMENT OF PRISONERS: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  The trial process in Mexico is different from the trial process in the United States, and procedures may vary from state to state.  Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.  Persons violating Mexican laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.  Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mexico are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.


Arrests & Notifications: The Mexican government is required by international law to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest U.S. consulate promptly when a U.S. citizen is arrested, if the arrestee so requests.  In practice, however, this notification can be delayed by months or may never occur at all, limiting the assistance the U.S. Government can provide.  U.S. citizens should promptly identify themselves as such to the arresting officers, and should request that the Embassy or nearest consulate be notified immediately. 

Prison Facilities:  Prison conditions in Mexico can be extremely poor.  In many facilities food is insufficient in both quantity and quality, and prisoners must pay for adequate nutrition from their own funds.  Most Mexican prisons provide poor medical care, and even prisoners with urgent medical conditions receive only a minimum of attention.  U.S. citizens who are incarcerated in Mexico are sometimes forced to pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars in “protection money” to fellow prisoners.

Prisoner Treatment/Interrogations:  Mexican police regularly obtain information through torture and prosecutors use this evidence in courts.  The Mexican Constitution and the law prohibit torture, and Mexico is party to several international anti-torture conventions, but courts continue to admit as evidence confessions extracted under torture.  Authorities rarely punish officials for torture, which continues to occur in large part because confessions are the primary evidence in many criminal convictions.  U.S. citizens have been brutalized, beaten, and even raped while in police custody.  Since the beginning of 2002, 21 U.S. citizens have died in Mexican prisons, including five apparent homicides. 

Drug Penalties and Prescription Medications:  Penalties for drug offenses are strict, and convicted offenders can expect large fines and jail sentences up to 25 years.  The purchase of controlled medication requires a prescription from a licensed Mexican physician; some Mexican doctors have been arrested for writing prescriptions without due cause.  In those instances, U.S. citizens who bought the medications have been held in jail for months waiting for the Mexican judicial system to decide their fate.  The Mexican list of controlled medication differs from that of the United States, and Mexican public health laws concerning controlled medication are unclear and often enforced selectively.  To determine whether a particular medication is controlled in Mexico, and requires a prescription from a Mexican doctor for purchase, please consult the website of the Mexican Federal Commission for Protection Against Health Risks (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios - COFEPRIS) at Listado de Medicamentos Controlados,  This site is in Spanish only.



If this doesn’t make you re-consider, watch the movie “Midnight Express”.