"Zetas, released information alleging that the Cártel de Cancún boss had been detained by police. Cartel members, believing the information, reacted and attacked the Attorney General’s office in that city."
There are no more “gentlemen’s agreements” between authorities and criminal groups in Quintana Roo, a change that has led to increased violence as the latter fight over lucrative territory for drug dealing and extortion.
A federal report obtained by the newspaper El Universal also revealed that an independent gang, referred to as the Cártel de Cancún and integrated by several former judicial officials and members of various other criminal groups, has under its control the nightclubs, bars and hotels in the hotel zone of Cancún, in Puerto Morelos, Alfredo V. Bonfil and Isla Mujeres.
The cartel, said to be headed by former Federal Police officer Leticia Rodríguez Lara, is now attempting to move into Playa del Carmen.
Doña Lety or La 40 as the gang leader is known is believed to have controlled the drug trade in the north of Quintana Roo for at least five years, and has also succeeded in infiltrating police forces and the state Attorney General’s office.
However, the gang has not been happy with that office’s recent changes in middle and senior management, presumably because some of the people who had been moved out were on its payroll.
All this has not gone unnoticed by Los Zetas, one of four gangs with a presence in the state, the others being Los Pelones, Cártel del Golfo and Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación.
The Zetas have been sidelined in recent years but are now moving to regain lost territory by clashing with Doña Lety, the report suggests.
There is a theory that the shootings in Cancún a week ago were triggered by the Zetas, who released information alleging that the Cártel de Cancún boss had been detained by police. Cartel members, believing the information, reacted and attacked the Attorney General’s office in that city.
Official figures from some years ago would indicate that the region’s drug market is worth US $1.5 billion annually, says a researcher at the Autonomous University of Quintana Roo who also believes Mexico must act and get to the root of the problem if it wishes to avoid becoming a failed state.
Juan Carlos Arriaga Rodríguez said Mexico is going through a process similar to what was seen in Colombia and warned that there is currently no light at the end of the tunnel.
“The breakdown of the Mexican political system is tremendous; never in history has there been so much corruption . . . .” he said, claiming authorities are living in a world of illusion in which governability is at risk due to the absence of a clear plan with realistic objectives.
Worries about increased violence will lead to a growing perception of insecurity, Arriaga said, observing that such perceptions were rare in the past because the government could control the information that was published.
But with social networks that kind of control is impossible today, he said.
The researcher said there is no “magic recipe” to address the situation, but pointed to criteria such as the professionalization of security forces, the impartation of justice, realistic plans and citizen participation as necessary elements.
Official response to the shootings in Cancún and those the day before in Playa del Carmen has been to send in more Federal Police.
Many of those will be housed in a new police headquarters in Playa del Carmen, a 2.8-million-peso facility whose first stone ceremony (similar to shoveling first dirt in ground breaking) was laid Saturday.
El Universal reported that more than 250 Federal Police were deployed to the state last year, 100 to Chetumal and 150 to Cancún. But they were later shipped off to Chiapas, leaving Quintana Roo without federal security.