Is Medellin Safe US Embassy Colombia talks about security for US Citizens
Medellin is a popular and affordable tourist destination. However, recent events have raised concerns about US citizens' safety in the city. We spoke to Cristin Heinbeck, Chief of American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy Colombia in Bogota, to address these concerns. We'll share insights from the Embassy, the actions taken by the Medellin Mayor’s office, and safety tips for visitors and residents.

Is Medellin Safe? U.S. Embassy Colombia Talks About Security for U.S. Citizens

Medellin has become a popular destination for tourists looking for affordable living. However, recent events, especially those affecting American tourists, have raised concerns about U.S. citizens’ safety in or visiting the city. To address these concerns, we reached out to Cristin Heinbeck, Chief of American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy Colombia in Bogota

In this article, we will share insights from the U.S. Embassy Colombia, the initiative from the Mayor’s Office in Medellin, and some safety tips to help ensure the security of visitors and residents alike. 

Exclusive Insights: Interview with the U.S. Embassy Colombia on Medellin Safety

During this interview, Cristin Heinbeck (CH) shares information about the measures being taken by the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá to ensure the safety of American citizens in Medellin. She also provides security tips, advises on how to stay informed, and discusses the services provided by the Embassy.

Cristin Heinbeck, Chief of American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy Colombia in Bogota - Photo by the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.
Cristin Heinbeck, Chief of American Citizen Services at the U.S. Embassy Colombia in Bogota - Photo by the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.
Medellin Guru Team

What specific actions is the U.S. Embassy in Bogota taking to ensure the safety and security of U.S. citizens in Medellin in light of recent incidents?  Can you provide details about any advisory or guidance the Embassy has issued to U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Medellin?

Cristin Heinbeck:

We take seriously our commitment to providing U.S. citizens with clear, timely, and reliable information about every country in the world so they can make informed travel decisions. We share information across a range of platforms and in many formats, so that U.S. citizens have access to the safety and security information they need when living or traveling abroad.

In Colombia, citizens’ security and any reports of crime are handled by the Colombian police and legal system.  In response to recent events, the Embassy issued a security Alert to warn U.S. citizens and offer safety tips.  

We continue to support U.S. citizens in distress and work with Colombian authorities to pursue those who have committed crimes against U.S. citizens.

Medellin Guru Team

Are there any particular areas or neighborhoods in Medellin that U.S. citizens should avoid or exercise caution in?  

Cristin Heinbeck:

Our Travel Advisory does not specify neighborhoods to avoid in Medellin, but we encourage U.S. citizens to avoid certain situations. 

Medellin Guru Team

What advice or tips do you have for U.S. citizens to stay safe and vigilant while in Medellin, such as avoiding certain activities or behaviors?

Cristin Heinbeck:

Generally, the Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens keep a low profile and maintain awareness of their surroundings. We recommend that U.S. citizens do not display signs of wealth, limit the use of cellphones while out in public, and carry only the cash and credit cards required for the day or night’s activities. Rather than hailing taxis from the street, U.S. citizens should use a dispatch service or cell phone app whenever possible.

Be cautious if using dating apps in Colombia. If meeting with a stranger, U.S. citizens should strongly consider meeting only in public places and avoiding isolated locations, such as residences or hotel rooms, where crimes are most likely to occur.  

We recommend that U.S. citizens tell a friend or family member of your plans, including where they are going, details of the person they are meeting, and the app they used to meet their date.

If a U.S. citizen invites someone to their residence or hotel room, we recommend the U.S citizen speak to their door attendant/concierge beforehand and establish a policy as to what information the visitor should provide before being authorized entry (photo of identification, etc.) and what process should be followed when the visitor departs. 

Scopolamine and other incapacitating drugs are often surreptitiously applied to food, drinks, and hand sanitizer vials by criminals to rob or assault their victims.  Avoid leaving food or drinks unattended at a bar or restaurant, and refuse offers of something to eat or drink from a stranger. 

Traditional hallucinogens, often referred to as ayahuasca and marketed to tourists as “spiritual cleansing,” typically contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a strong psychedelic that is illegal in the United States and many other countries.  Risks to hallucinogen users while intoxicated include robbery, assault, illness, and/or death. People claiming to be shamans or spiritual practitioners are neither licensed nor regulated. 

In the unfortunate event of a robbery, U.S. citizens should prioritize personal safety by refraining from resistance and promptly surrendering all valuables without hesitation.  Resistance can result in an abrupt escalation of violence, while prioritizing compliance enhances the likelihood of a safer outcome in such situations. 

We encourage visitors to Colombia to read the full Travel Advisory and the country specific information.

Medellin Guru Team

How are you collaborating with local authorities, law enforcement agencies, and the media to address safety concerns in Medellin?

Cristin Heinbeck:

In response to recent events, the U.S. Embassy formed a working group to review the situation holistically and meet with our Colombian counterparts to pursue ways we can work together to promote safe and sustainable tourism.