There is a certain stigma attached to border cities where members of major drug trafficking groups regularly intimidate police, kill each other, and occasionally leave trails of dumped body parts.
In light of travel advisories like this one, cities like Tijuana have tried unsuccessfully over the past year to convince tourists that they aren’t likely to be the target of a narco shooting. In Mazatlan, meanwhile, some taxi drivers are finding a niche in taking tourists to (the outside of) places believed to be owned by drug traffickers and to the crime scenes of famous drug battles, according to this story by Marc Lacey of The New York Times.
While official tourism officials here might wince at the idea, other countries are employing narco tourism: In Colombia, you can visit a ranch used by now-deceased drug trafficker Pablo Escobar. It has been converted into a theme park.
Capitalizing on the narco phenomenom can be controversial, but a fair number of tourists would probably enjoy visiting the sites of one of Tijuana’s infamous drug tunnels (or others in Tecate and Mexicali). The art museum known as Casa del Tunel – the origin of one the city’s famous cross-border tunnels – provides only passing recognition of its past incarnation.
Tijuana Tunnel Tours could be a mobile event, or it could become an actual museum. There is a warehouse east of the Tijuana airport that was the origin of a massive and incomplete tunnel said to have been built for Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman in the 1990s. This tunnel museum could include photos of other tunnels, explanations of how tunnels are found, and shovels and religious icons found at tunnel sites. Guzman, who remains at large, might be appeased with a VIP pass.
Photo of warehouse that was the entrance of a massive tunnel discovered in 1993, said to have been built by suspected trafficker Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman. The last time I visited the building, it was being used by Mexican federal authorities to hold confiscated cars.