Grim discovery in tourist paradise

This time, authorities discovered five dead men stuffed into a car at the beachside holiday haven.

Cancun is starting to follow eerily similar patterns as Acapulco, a once glamorous holiday destination that is now Mexico’s murder capital.

Local prosecutors are desperately trying to identify the bodies of five men who were stuffed into a car in the resort city.

The prosecutors’ office in the state of Quintana Roo said the bodies were found early Wednesday but have not yet been identified.

The latest case comes amid a rise in violence including drug and gang related killings in the once tranquil holiday destination.

Cancun, Mexico.

Cancun, Mexico.Source:istock

Because of the thriving drug trade and widespread extortion, fear is rampant among locals and an alarming number of the murders ultimately go unsolved. Now, the situation is so dire that Cancun’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry is under threat.

British journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy recently travelled to Mexico for SBS’s Dateline to report on the situation and found the scenic beaches completely deserted with almost no police presence visible.

“It’s as if the police don’t want anyone to notice. There’s minimum fuss and hardly any officers here,” he said from an active crime scene where a man had been gunned down in the sand after four thugs raided the hotel he was staying at. This was in one of the apparent safer areas of Cancun.

With online information about the murders hard to come across, it’s believed local politicians are under pressure to keep quiet about the crime epidemic so as not to create an “economic disaster” for Cancun and Mexico’s tourism industry.

On Tuesday, prosecutors announced the arrest of three Cancun police officers in relation to the kidnapping of four Colombian citizens.

An increasing number of Colombians have been involved in loansharking and other activities in Mexico that make them vulnerable to extortion or kidnapping. Last week, gunmen on water scooters also shot at a roving vendor on a beach in Cancun’s hotel zone. Nobody was wounded.

With investigators in Acapulco attending, on average 10 murder scenes a day, the alarming figures in Cancun are so bad that the homicide rate has doubled in the past year.

Mexico’s drug and extortion cartels are continuing to spread fear throughout the country and it’s understood more than 100 people have been slaughtered in Cancun since the beginning of 2018.

Police officers carry the body of a murdered man from a beach in Acapulco. Picture: Francisco Robles/AFP

Police officers carry the body of a murdered man from a beach in Acapulco. Picture: Francisco Robles/AFPSource:AFP

HOW TO STAY SAFE IN MEXICO

Travel advisories from Australia and the US state that visitors should exercise a “high degree of caution” when in Mexico — the second lowest of four travel advice levels.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) warns of high levels of violent crime and drug-related violence.

“Murder, armed robbery, sexual assault and kidnapping are risks, including in popular tourist destinations and beach resorts. Risks increase after dark,” the department says.

This is DFAT’s main advice for Australians considering visiting Mexico:

• Pay close attention to your personal security at all times

• Avoid travelling at night outside of major cities, including on major highways

• Avoid changing money at the airport if possible, or change only small amounts to avoid attracting attention

• Use only official taxis from airports. Pre-pay your fare at one of the official taxi company booths located in the arrivals hall at airport terminals

• Use only radio-dispatched taxis or taxis based at designated stands (sitios), especially in Mexico City

• Use only first-class buses

• Using toll (cuota) roads may reduce the risk of crime when driving

• Don’t leave your drinks or food unattended, especially in bars or nightclubs

• Don’t accept food, drinks, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances

• Monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Avoid trouble spots.

About author