[Tweeters] Legacy Tours group robbed near Mexico City

Mark Egger m.egger at comcast.net
Fri Apr 6 12:13:17 PDT 2007


Many of you may know Michael Carmody and/or have taken one of his
excellent tours. While no one was hurt, he and a group were robbed of
virtually all their gear at the famous Sierra Madre Sparrow site,
located between Mexico City & Cuernavaca. The site is semi-rural,
with small farms & communities mixed with broken woods & fields --
not apparently a high-risk site! (I visited there in 2000 without
incident and did find the sparrows!)

I've taken the liberty of posting Michael's description of the event
to a Mexico birding list-serve. While I've never taken one of his
tours (I like to arrange my own), I know from others that he does a
great job and is not at all a risk-taker. So, I'm hoping this will
not discourage him or others & that he continues to share with us the
incredible and rich opportunities for birding in Mexico. While his
story is certainly cautionary, it should be remembered that such
events are still VERY RARE and that such unfortunate events can occur
virtually anywhere in the world where birders gather with a bunch of
expensive equipment concentrated in a single place.

Here's the message, including an introductory comment by another
member of the Mexico birding list-serve:

"I received this message from Michael Carmody who asked me to post it here.
The only changes I made was to move his last paragraph into the beginning
(for clarity,) and added a postscript I received in a second email from
Michael. Personally, I want to thank him for asking me to forward this
information to all of you.
Bruce -

Please post this on the web on my behalf as I am not a subscriber to the
posting service you use. Thank you, Bruce, for sharing this information
with the web based community as they are the most likely visitors - hence
next victims - to this specific birding location, which in my opinion, is
not longer safe for unescorted groups or individuals.

Michael Carmody
Legacy Tours

Michael Carmody here... I was the guide leading the group that was robbed
south of Mexico City on Saturday afternoon, March 31st, 2007. The robbery
took place at kilometer post 45 on the libre [free] highway between Mexico
City and Cuernavaca - at the municipal border between the Federal District
and Morelos State.

This location is better known in web based trip reports as the location for
the Sierra Madre Sparrow & that of the Strikland's Woodpecker [this site is
noted in the Howell bird finding guide and the Wilson site guide for Mexico

I have birded this area more than thirty times during the past fifteen years
without incident. However, now I will return there only with an armed
escort [I was told the US Embassy in Mexico City can arrange this for groups
if contacted ahead of time].

The robbers did not appear to me to be organized, nor did the police declare
that the area has recently been targeted by armed gunmen. I believe that
these men were intending to rob picnic-goers on a Saturday afternoon... and
that we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

However, this said... these robbers hit the MEXICAN LOTTERY by stealing
wallets, watches, binoculars, cameras, scopes, etc.... AND THEY WILL BE BACK

That that was once true only of the larger cities in Mexico - caution,
caution, caution - is now also true for a buffer zone of 50 or more
kilometers along the more traveled roads in and out of these large cities.
The fantastic improvements being made in highway construction throughout
Mexico are not only increasing ease of commerce like no time before, but are
also extending the reach of thieves and robbers who can easily disappear
back into the maze of a city well within an hour... birding along the main
highways near major cities should be most cautiously considered, and avoided
as a first choice.

Finally, in regard to the robbery itself the facts posted on the web report
are accurate except that the robbers made NO expression of intent to shoot
anyone. The robbers threats to use the gun were limited to not following
instructions. The birding group stayed calm, and allowed the robbers to
take THINGS rather than choosing to escalate the violence to a higher level.
Though we were all frightened, there was no having to talk these robbers out
of killing anyone, as they only wanted our THINGS and to get away from us as
quickly as possible.


Any perceived delay in communicating this tragedy is
the result of the difficulty in getting all the members of the tour group
out of Mexico, as those that had passports stolen from them were forced to
wait until Monday to acquire new ones, and then re-book the airlines for

I have been home one full day now...

Michael Carmody
Legacy Tours

Mark Egger
Seattle, WA
mailto:m.egger at comcast.net

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