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Lukeville/Sonoyta Border Crossing Is it Safe to Cross?
The Lukeville/Sonoyta border towns, are a three hour drive from Phoenix to the Arizona border and a 6 hour drive from San Diego. To get to Lukeville from Phoenix take the I-10 Interstate west to highway 85. Take 85 south. You will pass through Buckeye, Gila Bend, Ajo, Why and finally arrive at Lukeville. Alternatively, you can take I-8 to Gila Bend then south on 85. Click for Puerto Penasco/Rocky Point route maps.
U.S. Helps to Fight Drug Related Violence As part of its efforts to help Mexico fight the drug violence occurring along the U.S./Mexico Border, 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. 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. When they have decided you are the average Joe, they will allow you to pass over the border into Mexico. Steph and I travel twice a month into Mexico at the Lukeville border. On several occasions U.S. Home Land Security has pulled vehicles over to the side for further inspection. There is only one lane over the border. On a holiday or high volume day the wait could be up to 45 minutes long, be prepared. I personally am in favor of the new program and the added security, so I don’t mind the wait.
Mexican Customs Inspection Upon crossing the border into Mexico you will see a customs inspection traffic light to your left. Green means pass, red means pull over for inspections. Nothing to worry about. The Mexican customs agents are very polite (cortes). They will simply ask “where are you from?”( ¿de donde eres?) and “Where are you going?”, “Any guns?”. They may ask to inspect your vehicle. If all is well, you will be on your way to the town of Sonoyta and onto Rocky Point. If you have any new high value items you will want to declare the items before you pass the light. If you don’t and you get the red light, you could face a steep fine for not declaring the items. For additional information on the Mexican Customs click on our article entitled
Mexican Custom’s Importation. By the way, if you didn’t already know, it is illegal to brings guns, ammunition, and drugs into Mexico. If you are caught with any of these items - even one empty bullet casing - you will go to jail.
Federal Police Looking for Drug Traffickers Often, the Sonoran State Police, Mexican Federal Police, Mexican Marines, and Mexican Navy will set up check points between Sonoyta and Puerto Penasco, and a few miles before entering Puerto Penasco / Rocky Point. It’s very similar to a DUI check point in the United States, however the officers are looking for DUI’s as well as gun runners and drug traffickers. You will have to pull off to the side of the road, get out of the vehicle and allow the authorities to search it. The officers are very polite. The stop should only take a few minutes and then you will be on your way. We usually encounter the check points during American or Mexican Holidays. For more on travel to Puerto Penasco / Rocky Point see our article entitled Rocky Point Travel Tips.
Long Wait Time at U.S. Border When you return to the United States at the Lukeville port of entry be prepared for a long wait on Sunday afternoon and after a long holiday weekend. Wait times can take up to 4 hours. Usually there are only 2 U.S. Customs lanes open. On holidays they will have all 5 lanes open. To help speed up customs inspections it helps to have a U.S. Passport for all occupants in the vehicle. It is now required by U.S. Customs to have a government approved I.D. for U.S. Citizens entering the U.S. Two forms of acceptable ID are the U.S. Passport and the new U.S. Passport Card. See our article entitled U.S. Travel Requirements for additional information. The U.S. agents do a fine job getting people through as fast a possible. And they are very alert. On several occasions we have witnessed several arrests of vehicle occupants. Do not bring fruit or vegetables, customs will make you throw it out. Also, declare any thing of value that you have purchased in Mexico.
Enjoy your travel to Rocky Point, Mexico! Kyle and Steph