Cancun and the Riveria Maya are popular resort areas in Southern Mexico. Every year, more than 7 million visitors flock to the Quintana Roo area of Mexico to explore scenic ruins, sugar-white sands and ancient cenotes. Many other visitors arrive in the area via cruise ships that port at nearby Cozumel. Although the area was once considered perfectly safe for tourists, that has changed in recent years.
The area has seen an unprecedented increase in violent crime as rival cartels battle over turf. Widespread extortion and a thriving drug trade are partially to blame for the violence. In August, at least eight bodies were found dumped in Cancun. Many of the victims had been shot multiple times and some were dismembered and placed in plastic bags.
Then, in April, fourteen people were murdered in Cancun in a 36-hour period. In July, Chicago area tourist Tatiana Mirutenko, 27, was shot and killed on her honeymoon. She was killed by a stray bullet in a drive-by. Although this occurred in Mexico City, it still highlights the dangers for Americans even in popular tourist areas. Then, in February of this year, an explosion ripped through one of the popular ferries that shuttle tourists and resort workers from Cozumel to Playa Del Carmen. More than 24 people were injured in this explosion, including five United States citizens.
Murder and explosions are not the only concern for Americans visiting the area. There have been many reports from tourists claiming that they have been extorted by police for bribes when they drive rental cars around the region. Then in January, 21-year-old Abby Connor drowned in suspicious circumstances in the pool at at upscale luxury Mexican resort in the area. It is suspected that tainted alcohol may be to blame for Connor’s death. Violent incidents in Mexico may be underreported, as well. It is not uncommon for journalists to face violence when they try to report on crime. On August 30, a TV cameraman was murdered by a cartel gunman. This makes the 3rd journalist killed in Quintana Roo within the past two months.
These incidents and many others highlight just how dangerous it is for Americans to travel to even the resort areas of Mexico. The United States Department of State issued an updated travel warning on for Americans traveling to Mexico on August 22. The warning urges U.S. citizens to “exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime.” It also says that violent crime, such as homicide, carjacking, robbery and kidnapping is widespread in Mexico.
Although American tourists are not necessarily being targeted in Mexico, it still pays to carefully consider travel to the area when planning your next vacation. Although prices are often very low on travel in the area, there is a risk of being caught in the crossfire of cartel violence not to mention being the victim of tainted alcohol even when staying at a luxury property. There are plenty of other beautiful areas to travel that do not carry the same risks.
~ Liberty Planet