The 10 Most Common Foreign Cities Americans Get Arrested

Over 2,500 Americans are arrested abroad annually. More than 30% of these arrests are drug related. Over 70% of drug related arrests involve marijuana or cocaine.

If getting arrested is your measure of trouble, the answer is Mexico. More specifically, it’s Tijuana, followed by Guadalajara, Nuevo Laredo and, across the Atlantic, London.

That’s the upshot of a new tally by the U.S. State Department tracking arrests of Americans abroad.

Police in the sprawling border town,Tijuana, arrested 520 Americans in 2006, more so than any other city on the planet.

In fact, according to statistics released by the American State Department and published by the LA Times, Mexico claims four of the top five cities in which the most Americans were taken into custody. Only London, at number 4 on the list with 274 arrests stood in the way of Mexican penal domination.

Here are the Top10 Places where Americans got arrested.

Tijuana, Mexico:

Before Vegas were Vegas, Tijuana was the glitziest place to go. Pre-1933, the year Prohibition was repealed; Californians would cross the border to get a drink and taste other forbidden fruits. Its rowdy rep continues. Last year, 520 U.S. citizens were arrested there, many on firearms, drug and alcohol charges.

Tijuana Mexico

Guadalajara, Mexico:

The capital of Jalisco state sits at 5,100 feet, and it’s a good place to chill out. But Americans still manage to get into hot water: 416 U.S. citizens were arrested there in 2006.

Guadalajara Mexico

Nuevo Laredo, Mexico:

Cars line up in the Mexican city, which lies just across the border from Laredo, Texas. Visitors come to Nuevo Laredo to shop at El Mercado for Mexican handicrafts. But it can be a rough-and-tumble town.

The State Department (, in its consular information sheets, says it can be violent. 359 U.S. citizens were arrested there in year 2006.

Nuevo Laredo Mexico


Sure, you think of Tower Bridge, at left, and the Tower of London when you visit Britain’s capital, but you don’t think you’ll end up one of its inmates.

According to the State Department, travelers seem to have a propensity for getting arrested in the city on the Thames. In 2006, 274 U.S. citizens were arrested in London; the State Department declined to comment on why.


Mexico City:

The capital of Mexico was founded by the Aztecs in the 14th century and today is the country’s center of finance, government and culture. At left, dancers perform in Zocalo, the world’s second-largest public square.

Mexico City is a huge urban area that can be tough to navigate, with about 570 square miles and around 18 million people. In 2006, 208 Americans lost their way and were arrested there.

Mexico City


This genteel Canadian city, viewed from the northern shore of Lake Ontario where the skyline is dominated by the CN Tower, hardly seems a magnet for trouble. Yet in 2006, 183 U.S. citizens ran afoul of the law and were arrested.


Nassau, Bahamas:

Nassau has a wonderful, natural port and attracts lots of cruise ships, which disgorge their passengers into this city of about 200,000. These and other visitors often find trouble in paradise, however: In 2006, 108 U.S. citizens were arrested there.

Nassau Bahamas

Mérida, Mexico:

This city, the inland gateway to the Yucatán and the capital of the state, has some beautiful colonial architecture, including the Casa de Montejo, which was built in 1549. But that beauty turned ugly for some Americans: 99 were arrested there in 2006.

Merida Mexico

Nogales, Mexico:

Just across the border from Arizona, Nogales attracts U.S. visitors for shopping and dining. But the fun went sour for 96 U.S. citizens who were arrested there in 2006.

Nogales Mexico

Hong Kong:

This high-energy special administrative region of China can be chaotic, attesting to its importance as a financial and trade center. It was definitely not the center of calm for the 90 U.S. citizens arrested there in 2006.

Hong Kong

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10


RSSComments (11)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. Luke says:

    So the creator of this list hasn’t been in Europe I guess.

  2. Jackie says:

    Man… beware in Mexico!

  3. David says:

    Man…. Beware of Americans.

  4. Realitista says:

    What makes you think he hasn’t been to europe? Maybe americans just don’t get arrested much in europe (in my 8 years of experience as an american living in europe, I have found that this is a very difficult thing to do, and don’t know of any american that has succeeded in doing it).

  5. This is useless says:

    What about a weighted per-American-visitor average????? That would be a lot more helpful….

  6. Mo says:

    I’m guessing TJ gets more than 5 times as many American visitors as Nassau and more than 6 times as many as Hong Kong. So you’re probably far less likely to get arrested there than in the other places. Which strikes me as odd.

  7. BobN says:

    A weighted-for-intoxication average would be helpful, too…

  8. nc says:

    Ok, 4 out of 10 are border towns, which makes sense because many border towns try to sell you on whatever is illegal in America, so visitors tend to get crazy there, and get arrested. And 5 out of 10 are in Mexico, no surprise, because a lot of Americans go to Mexico, and also, Mexican cops will often arrest people for profit, if you know what I mean. Hong Kong is the one I don’t understand.

  9. rufustfyrfly says:

    You’re complaining that a list found on a website is useless? I’m not sure you understand what the internets are for at all.

  10. Jungle Jil says:

    I agree that this is useless. Of course Mexico (Toronto, Bahamas) are where the most Americans get arrested. That’s where most Americans go.

    For the weighted per-American-vistor average, my money is on Bangkok… or the nearby sin-city resort of Pattaya, where I used to live. (They would arrest 5 or 10 toursists per night there.)

  11. Schmedlap says:

    All those Mexican border towns and the largest of all, Ciudad Juarez, does not make the list. That can mean only one thing — the list is faulty. Hell, they kill that many people a day over there.

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.