Santy-opinionEver since I could remember, my family and I would visit family members throughout Mexico, which included  Tijuana (TJ), Baja California, Hermosillo, Sonora and Zacatecas, Zacatecas, Mexico.

Even though Mexico is a third-world country, Tijuana, Mexico was always my favorite place to visit because it was close to home and it had lots to offer: beaches, great night life and the best street tacos in the world.

As an older teenager and even during my early 20s, I would drive over the boarder to party on its infamous boulevard known as Revolution Street or Revolucion, which is the heart of TJ’s night life.

Never did I imagine that taking a trip over the boarder would become so complicated or dangerous — even for a first-generation Mexican- American such as myself.

According to Univision news, ever since 2006 when Mexico’s reigning president at the time, Felipe Calderon, declared war on all Mexican drug cartels, there has been more than 15,000 related deaths. Needless to say, many of the victims were decapitated or disintegrated in acid.

Due to the extreme level of violence, Mexico has not been the same. Many stories linger about tourists being kidnapped, robbed or even killed. A lot of those stories never truly made me concerned because I always thought it couldn’t happen to me or to a family member.

However, it wasn’t until early this year when my perception changed. My father took a vacation trip to Mexico by bus about mid-February. Three miles after he crossed the border into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, the bus was stopped by a group of corrupted federal agents; it was a total of four men, three of them wearing ski masks and holding high caliber weapons. One of the federal agents went in the bus and handpicked a group of male passengers, which included my father, to step out into a shack on the side of the road.

One-by-one, the passengers were searched and stripped of their money. The corrupted officers illegally ceased $2,000 from my father and then they released him.

It is a shame that our neighboring country in the south can capitalize on its tourists and its residents by robbing or extorting them. As long as corrupted government officials and drug cartels exist throughout Mexico, innocent people will always be prone to these unfortunate situations.

I highly recommend those who are brave enough to visit Mexico to fly in and try to avoid carrying large amounts of cash. And keep in mind Mexico is considered one of the most dangerous countries, and that the possibility of being kidnapped, robbed or murdered are higher than anywhere else on the globe.