Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico
.

Friday, August 26, 2022

US Tourists Beware: Popular Mexico Getaway Plagued By Drug Cartel Intimidation And Violence

"Sol Prendido" for Borderland Beat

With its turquoise waters, white sand and ancient ruins, this city has become an increasingly popular spot for tourists seeking a getaway along the Caribbean coastline.

Its raves, nightclubs and exclusive resorts and restaurants offer a more tranquil getaway than Cancun, its more well-known neighbor 81 miles to the north.

But the increasing threats of violence pervading Mexico have made their way here, as well as the surrounding state of Quintana Roo. U.S. State Department officials issued a warning Aug. 17 of a heightened risk of violence to Americans traveling there.

While the U.S. government has no restrictions on travel for its employees in Quintana Roo’s tourist sites, such as Cancun, Cozumel and Tulum, it is warning Americans to “exercise increased caution due to crime and kidnapping.”

Tourists are warned to “remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones” in the wake of shootings between rival drug cartels that have injured bystanders.

In October, two tourists were killed while having dinner in an outdoor restaurant in Tulum. A month later, guests at a resort in Puerto Morelos were forced to hide while gunmen arrived by boat and killed two.

And in January, two Canadian tourists were killed at a luxury hotel in Playa del Carmen the same month the manager of a popular beach club was murdered in a restroom by two men who fled on a jet ski.

The cartels’ influence in the region has risen as “tourism began to grow, and as thousands of tourists started to arrive in this region, a drug dealing market was created for them,” said David Saucedo, a Mexico-based security analyst.

The prevalence of the cartels was readily apparent when journalists working on this story were confronted by cartel members at two popular restaurants in Tulum.

As one of the journalists went to a restroom in the first restaurant, he was approached by armed men who checked his pockets and ID, asking him multiple times what he was doing there and what cartel he worked for before finally letting him leave.

When the journalists went to another place, the same happened again.

They left Tulum the next morning.

Tourists are an easy target for drug cartels, analysts say, particularly if they’ve come to sample the drug scene.

“Many tourists found the possibility to do drugs during vacation,” Saucedo said. “While in other destinations in Mexico, low-priced drugs such as marijuana and cocaine were sold, (and) in the Caribbean, there were hard drugs in the market, so foreign tourists were looking to live this experience not only of tourism but also of consumption.”

More than 160 people have been detained since January on drug-dealing charges, said Tulum Police Chief Oscar Aparicio.

“It’s a quite considerable number; we have raids every day,” he said. “While there is supply or demand, this crime will continue.”

Danger in the restrooms

Two Tulum-based business owners who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the cartels said the city’s tourism has blossomed after the worst of the pandemic lifted.

“It became a very fashionable place,” said one.

But with the extra business has come the increasing threat of cartel violence, they said.

“Last year, they (cartels) put a person to sell drugs in the restrooms,” one said. “It’s extortion because you can’t say no to them.”

He described how he was visited by a trio of armed men who told him a man was going to be selling drugs from his restroom for the next three days.

“At that moment, I didn't know what to answer,” he said. “I told them, ‘Yes, I only work here.’”

But going to police isn’t an option, he said, because business owners can’t be sure the authorities aren't working with the cartels, “and you never know what’s going to happen to you.”

Chief Aparicio said police are aware of the drugs being sold in restrooms and have taken steps to try to curtail the trade.

“Unfortunately, many of the tourists who come to Tulum come precisely to get drugs and try things that they haven’t tried in their countries,” he said.

“As long as people come who want to consume, this will continue happening, and we won’t be able to avoid it, even if we have 100,000 police officers at the beach.”

But security analyst Erubiel Tirado said placing the problem on tourists misses the larger issue.

“To blame tourists and say that their actions lead to more crime seems to me to be an irresponsible simplification,” Tirado said. “It’s very easy to blame them when, in most cases, some come just to visit the Tulum ruins.

“They talk about a drug-dealing problem, and the reality is that organized crime wouldn’t exist if there is no complicity at all the levels of government.”

Cartel hawks are always on the lookout

Aparicio acknowledged the omnipresence of cartel hawks or halcones who are constantly watching areas — whether it be the juice vendor or the waiter of a restaurant — to collect information and keep drug dealers from getting caught.

“The National Guard is patrolling all the time, but these people have hawks everywhere that immediately inform their dealers, so they hide or stop selling,” Tulum’s police chief said.

But Aparicio disputed the contention that cartels were extorting businesses, saying “it has been eradicated.”

“There are indeed drug cartels operating, local cartels that have been around for a long time, but we have not allowed access to other cartels into Tulum,” he said.

David Ortiz-Mena, president of the Tulum Hotel Association, agreed with the police chief’s assessment, saying there is no extortion at hotels.

“If there has been an attempt ― kidnapping, extortion in hotels ― these have been resolved adequately by state response,” he said.

But the two anonymous restaurant owners in Tulum said it would be naïve to underestimate the cartels’ influence in the area. That became clear after they were so openly approached by a cartel member.

“I began to understand that the reality is that this is normal,” he said. “Even though I was shocked at first, and suddenly I was a little bit paranoid, the truth is that it becomes business as usual.”

Before you travel

Get travel advisories broken down by cities and states on the U.S. State Department’s website.

State Department officials encourage Americans to “take 90 seconds for safer travel,” by enrolling in STEP, Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which sends updates on travel alerts and allows U.S. officials to more easily aid travelers in an emergency.

Courier Journal

90 comments:

  1. I feel it was worse in early - mid 2021 but I’d still be careful over there

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Friends go every year without problems.

      Delete
    2. 1:00 Why do people always say this? It’s like “duh”.. why tf would something happen to every single person or even most people who go there.. Get real and stop purposely missing the point. The problem is the inherent risk. If it’s happening to just a few people every other month then it’s not worth the risk that it could be you if you decide to go there. Now is diff but if someone asked me in early summer last year to go to Cancun I wouldn’t have gone. Were you not following BB at that time? It’s pretty obvious by all the stories that that was a bad time to go to the part of Mexico. Not that unusual to follow what’s going on in the news and coming to conclusions like that.

      Delete
    3. I used to....and still do....hear this all time time from ex-pats living in the town in Sonora where we used to have a house. It's willful blindness. They don't want to admit to themselves that the town where they invested their life savings in a house and cemented their retirement has now become unsafe.

      Then the argument becomes, "only Mexicans are being killed", which is highly offensive, and I'm as white and American as they come. Although they will talk about their lovely Mexican friends, they're usually only referring to the friendly server at their favorite restaurant or perhaps a local business owner who they only see at that business.

      I get the impression that most (certainly not all) could care less about the local Mexicans as long as they themselves aren't affected, and they aren't invested in the community where they live full-time at all.

      Eventually the cartels will get around to kidnapping Americans for profit, and it's going to get real ugly. I see this happening sooner rather than later with AMLO and the breakdown of law enforcement.

      As for the Cancun/Tulum/Playa Del Carmen area.....I went back there in 2019 just before COVID hit. I hadn't been there in 40ish years, and obviously it's changed a lot, and it would be unreasonable to expect that it wouldn't. One of the changes was the open hawking of drugs as we walked down the main tourist street. Probably every 50 yards or so we were approached by someone offering to sell us coke or weed, and I'm a 60-something retired law enforcement officer who has cop stink all over me, everything from the haircut, the build, clothing, sunglasses and demeanor. Yet they approached, and approached again and again.

      The cartels have taken over, and the speed with which their disease is spreading is discouraging and frightening.

      Delete
    4. 1:27
      I stated a fact.

      Delete
    5. 3:47 Doesn’t matter if it’s a fact when there’s not a single point that it proves or even suggests. You can probably go to Guanajuato or Michoacán tomorrow and likely nothing will happen. Does that mean it’s safe and still worth it though? Of course not.

      Delete
    6. 5:28 You state it doesn't prove a point and then immediately proceed to prove my point by saying you can travel to some parts without nothing happening. Precisely my point. You engaged in a performative contradiction.

      Delete
    7. 5:48 the safest place in the world was in your dads nutts and probably not! You can get killed every where and in anyway, why be scared? Just follow the simple steps that will keep you safe any were, be respectfull, dont look for trouble (drugs) andmind your own business, thats it! Some times even that wont keep you safe in Usa so why even worrie about other countries?

      Delete
    8. 3:47pm you’re a long winded little fella huh? I didn’t even begin to read that nonsense. Maybe get an actual hobby and stop playing online?

      Delete
    9. @1pm. Me to - year after year at least 6 or so times and never been bothered or seen anything I haven’t seen here.

      Delete
    10. 8:46 And you guys keep going back year after year because… why exactly? There’s much more interesting places in Mexico than that town, come on,

      Delete
    11. 9:45 Who are you even talking to? No one’s “scared”.

      Delete
    12. 10:02 Uhmmm yea the Mexico is hell guy and some other ritards who say theyll never go to mexico cause they might not come back, you know what i found funny? Most of those guys dont even have money yo go to mexico or a green card, thats why they will never go ti mexico, well they will if they get deported

      Delete
  2. Come on vacation, end up being forced to fight in a cartel war 💀

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 🤣🤣🤣 no mames, te ven y dicen " ni para comida del perro" 🤣🤣 no te creas tan importante

      Delete
    2. Do you think it happens to any gringos vacationing in Mexico?

      Delete
  3. But but but white Americans go there for cheap hotels, hookers and drugs. But but but it’s safe in Mexico. But but but it’s like heaven in Mexico. But but but my butt. Go their at your own risks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't forget to mention they cut heads and put in ice chest with the Coronas

      Delete
    2. But but but... they still going to spend their budget in drugs and alcohol... no matter what... a warning will never stop drug addicts from going to Cancun. Face it, admit, swallow it.

      Delete
  4. Cops are in it together with the cartel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That already goes without saying 🙄

      Delete
    2. 12:04 But that was already said, when it didn't go.

      Delete
    3. 4:41 Shut up. Thanks

      Delete
  5. Went there a few months ago. It’s not as dangerous as this article makes it out to be. Misinformation like the Canadian “tourist “ make a big difference in what’s being communicated. You have the same chance at getting shot while grocery shopping in the US as you do do getting caught in cartel crossfire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 12:06 you went a few months ago, that's the past, the article posted is fresh hot off the press, things have changed. I am not going.

      Delete
    2. How are we supposed to take you seriously with that last sentence.

      Delete
    3. You want to see Hell?

      Delete
    4. 2:13 Talking about Kesington Ave?, you are right, that area is dangerous AH.

      Delete
    5. 4:55 no Mijo, he is talking the cartels have made Mexico a living hell.

      Delete
    6. 6:16 funny how you guys think mexico is all cartel violence, its like saying all of USA is as bad as some parts of Chicago, come on guys if you are gonna hate at least be coeherent

      Delete
    7. Right? The Canadian "tourists" were drug traffickers and it was a planned hit for a debt owed.

      Delete
    8. 6:16 You clearly have never left your little town in Alabama, you never been in Mexico.

      Delete
    9. 6:16 Only some parts. Why is that so hard for you to comprehend?

      Delete
  6. I never thought Mexico would be this way. I never thought American would go trumps way esp conspiracy idiots. World is going nuts!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The corruption in Mexico is sickening. The US also has a lot of corruption as well, but on a level of Mexico is unmatched just imagine if government actually gave these club and restaurant owners to allow permits to legally carry or have legal armed security to kill any of these offenders forcing their way in to sell in their restrooms it would change everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You mean the clubs and restaurants that the cartels own and/or have investments in? Government needs the cartel if anything. They make billions and that’s not in pesos.

      Delete
  8. Question for the ADMINS: do you guys know where to read news about real estate and new construction in Mexico? Im not a real estate developer but i'd be interested in reading about the property market over here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Siempre la raza la caga

      Delete
    2. Want to buy, Narco seized properties , check with Sol, he can best direct you, nevermind the teeny boppers.

      Delete
    3. I can only speak as to where I used to have a house in Sonora....it's booming. Watch House Hunters International episodes featuring Mexico and you will get a decent idea as to what is going on. The nicer areas have tons of Americans moving there driving up the prices, but that was before all the recent violence.

      Some words of advice....

      If you're considering buying in Mexico, rent an Airbnb for a month in the town you'd like to live in, and live like a local, get to know the locals, get to know the difficulties and risks of living there before you buy. Start reading any local news sources well before that month in town.

      Also, if you buy, you need to have an independent attorney with extensive real estate experience look over and supervise the processing of all the paperwork. Do not hire someone recommended by the agent. Do not buy into a development which has not been completed and does not have owners already living there Do not put blind trust into anyone you don't have prior experience with.

      Also.....if you're planning on buying to live full-time, I'd rent somewhere for a full year before pulling the trigger.

      Delete
    4. Yes we know it is puerto penasco, sonora. Full of drugs, corrupt cops, drug cartel hit men, American criminals hiding out from American law enforcement, and of course, lot of American sex perverts

      Delete
    5. 1:22 google it and im sure you will find what you are looking for, just like when you googled "cartel wars" and BB came up, mexico is huge, and just like that you can find anything you are looking for, i use to watch Gang land and they use to make every gang look as big as they could, when in reality it was just violence between them, but you have to make it look worat then it really is so you can sell, if you know what i mean

      Delete
    6. 234pm: This is some good info to have. Learned something today! Thx

      Delete
  9. Ive been to Mazatlan twice this yea(each time i stayed a little over two weeks)
    And i stayed a little over a month in Playa del Carmen. Both places were so chill. And in Mazatlan we ventured off to a “Pueblo Magice” of El Quelite and went to Las Labradas both which were also very calm and pleasant places to visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you a paid online influencer 1:55?

      Delete
    2. 1:55 works for AMLO office.

      Delete
    3. Hes not even mentioning AMLO or anything related... You retards mention amlo for anything.

      Delete
    4. 4:30 Amlo is mentioned for everything, because he is irresponsible grampa.

      Delete
    5. 4:39 Stop crying you hate amlo

      Delete
    6. 1:55 you gotta hustle to survive in this cold world, that the reason im packing heat

      Delete
  10. Tourist that never used drugs, come back home addicted. Because at the restrooms, tough looking men, tell what drug you want to buy, and they don't want you to say no.
    You call the cops, they will do nothing, because the cartel sellers are buddies. They might take you and beat you up, they will say they took you in because you were drunk.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can’t get addicted to drugs that fast

      Delete
    2. 2:38 Dont really think so it works that way...

      Delete
  11. Fucking article still never stated WHICH town they were originally centered on.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Mexico should be rich bordering with U.S.A., instead everyone accepts bribes. Mexico should be like China.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That why isn't rich... Porfirio Diaz said a famous quote one day... google it. And not every mexican takes brides, you racist piece of sh*t.

      Delete
    2. You want to see Hell, go to Mexico.

      Delete
    3. If you want to see hell, go Kesington Av in Philadelphia.

      Delete
    4. I never paid a bribe in the approx 40 years my family had a home in Mexico. There was one traffic incident where it was it was suggested I pay mordida...I did not...and after I dropped some names (no, not narco) they immediately backed off. That's not to say I don't have some *wild* stories involving the police....I do. The vast majority of Mexicans are hard-working and honest, and are fed up with governmental corruption. Don't talk about what you know nothing about.

      I will pass along a funny story....I was driving down the main road in town and I was not speeding. I was pulled over by the police. The officer walked up to the car with a beat to crap radar gun in his hand and I was expecting the mordida hit. He asked if I knew how fast I was going, which is a standard question for speeding violations everywhere, including the USA. I told him I was going 25 (or whatever the km speed limit was). He smiled broadly and said, "Oh, good. The radar is working right!" He told me to have a good day and sent me on my way.

      Delete
    5. 453 LA skid row is worse than Kensington.

      Vancouver east downtown/Chinatown is nasty too.

      Delete
    6. 4:37 you can keep saying the same comment over and over and wont get banned but plz if for some reazon your comment doesnt go through dont complain like the 🦧🦧🦧 guy did, cause if you do ☀️ Will bann you

      Delete
    7. 6:38 the sad thing is that list is much longer than that, seen LA before. And SF have its thing too

      Delete
  13. Great article, keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  14. In San Diego, Juan had lived there for 30 years, he was brought over at age 3 from Cancun, Mexico learned English, graduated high school, had his green card, did not yet apply to become a US citizen living the American dream, to make money in construction, he would send money to get his home built in Mexico. He loved to drink beer with his buddies after work, unfortunately, he got stopped driving a car driving under the influence, that was his first DUI. A year went by, the love for drinking got the best of him, he got busted again, in this day and age, the fines are $10,000, + AA meetings, + weekend jail time. The judge was so lenient the 2nd time, he really through the book at him, he was deported to Tijuana, Mexico. Relatives wired money, told him to go visit relatives in Cancun.
    He was asking for a coyote (smuggler) to go back to USA,like Sol said recently, people don't know they have it good 👍 in the US until they F-up.
    Juan's luck was not getting better, it was actually getting worse...He found a connection, from the streets of Tijuana, he was told $2,000 to cross over, he agreed they pampered him, told him he can stay at their house for the night, once he was in the home, he was tied up, and held against his will. He was told to call relatives, and request $5,000.
    The relatives wanted to hear Juan's voice, they could not produce it, they had already killed them, no money was sent.
    They went to the Tijuana police, they would not even file a report. At last they found him at the morge, murdered by knife wounds. He was delivered and buried at his birthplace Cancun , Mexico

    ReplyDelete
  15. Now I want to visit Tulum

    ReplyDelete
  16. Violence and rampant homosexuality are everywhere in Mexico.

    No thanks!

    I’d rather vacation in North Philadelphia or in the Bronx. Violence yes, not the homosexuality that is Mexico.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love ALMO pero I no gay

      Delete
    2. 9:19 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣😭😭🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 why do you mention homosexuality? Are you scared of homos? Only guys who are not sure of their sexuality are scared of homos, if you are 100% sure you are straight you shouldnt worry about homos, so now i see you have some kind of daught 🤔, you can come out of the closet in here, nobody will judge you, actually nobody knows who you are, so you can just let it all out with out any worries

      Delete
    3. 9:19 Dont go, you are not needed there. Stay in your shitty town please.

      Delete
  17. I used to live in Venezuela and when I started seeing more military and police cars than taxis I left. I was in Mexico in the 1980s and it was not cartel ridden. You had to watch the local policia or the federales. Its always been corrupt. Even my Mexico friends get ripped off by aduana and so I will never go back to Mexico until the government ends cartel rule. I will probably be dead before that happens! Que lastima para todos!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 12:10 Good for you

      Delete
    2. Tourists and their credit cards should stay home and avoid having to pay sky high interest and the debts...

      Delete
    3. 12:10 Dont go, you are not needed. ☺

      Delete
  18. Every state has violence. Whether US, Mexico, Canada. Don’t do stupid things and your chances of getting caught up in something bad are less likely. Have respect

    ReplyDelete
  19. You have some truly great articles. I am always amazed at the work you put into BB for us. Cheers from here!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey thanks LASTRAW. We have an amazing team of writers and several silent partners who help make it all happen.

      Delete
  20. Mexico sovereign country is dangerous.
    You want to see Hell, then go to Mexico.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1:16 in the 2 short sentences that 6:41 wrote, nothing is mentioned about racism, why do you want to instill fake comments.

      Delete
    2. 9:32 Comparing Hell with an entire country, sounds very racist to me.

      Delete
  21. Oh the irony...you STILL have a higher chance of getting killed in the United States. Where's the travel advisory for tourists coming to the US? This is nothing new, there's always travel advisories to Mexico but doesn't actually mean it is unsafe. Americans are not being purposely targeted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The website is about Mexico, and it's situations, don't take is personal, that you have to counter attack.

      Delete
  22. Everyone, especially those with (some) money are just targets of opportunity… for ransom, for kidnapping, for fun, for damage, for highest bidder. Anyone traveling to MX is at risk, not that Roa gonna happen, but the odds are truly 50/50. White Americans talk so much shit about MX (in the US) and they think they’re god and goddesses when they vacation. But, they even fear the cops, the vendors, the hotels, etc. Now, Cancun IS NOT Mexico, it is in Mexico but very Americanized. Mexico is NOT the Mexico we knew… where we could happily enjoy going anywhere we wanted to, but Americans are too ignorant to see it, and to accept it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. You have a higher chance of dying by slipping in the bathtub than getting hurt in Mexico

    ReplyDelete

Comments are moderated, refer to policy for more information.
Envía fotos, vídeos, notas, enlaces o información
Todo 100% Anónimo;

borderlandbeat@gmail.com