Thanks for asking for insights before going into a drug war zone to shoot some photographs. I'd hate to hear another life was lost to that issue. Popping off a few images in such a hot bed certainly would make a drugged up dope seller think you were with a rival gang, the federal drug agency or the CIA or the like. An AK47 never stops to ask if these photos were just going to be posted on APUG.
Some really good alternatives here in this thread. Some I would really like to do myself and will add them to the long list of places to enjoy.