Tourists sunbathe on the battlefield as drug gangs fight for resort towns in Mexico


A bright yellow police tape blew in the breeze when the lights of a nearby police truck flashed blue and red outside a restaurant just off the main strip of Tulum, a resort town in Mexico.

An army in camouflage was guarding outside the deserted late-night restaurant La Malquerida, “The Unloved.” This is the shooting site of the Gang Grand, which killed two female tourists and injured three more vacationers.

Indian travel blogger Anjari Ryot and German tourist Jennifer Hensold, who lived in California and were on vacation to celebrate her birthday, October 20th attack It is believed to have been launched by one of several local criminal groups to claim control of local drugs and extortion rackets.

This attack has become a hot topic all over the world. However, within a few days, the Centaurus Sur Street scene returned to normal. Last night, the restaurant was full and the scent of Copal incense burned by street vendors drifted.

Most tourists flocking to the Maya Riviera are unaware that they are on vacation on the battlefield, one local worker said. “They are frozen, but they are in the middle of a war,” he said.

People observe the pre-Columbian Mayan ruins of Tulum from a boat.

People observe the pre-Columbian Mayan ruins of Tulum from a boat. Photo: Daniel Slim / AFP / Getty Images

Violence is not limited to Tulum.Last month, a guest at a resort 100km above the coast near Cancun A masked shooter struck the hotel beach on a boat, fired, and then rushed to seek cover, killing two suspicious rivals.

The two attacks are the latest in a series of high-profile incidents along the Maya Riviera, at the pinnacle of the country’s tourism industry.

Related: Two Cancun clash when a masked shooter attacks a beach in Mexico

Tourists are still flocking to Tulum, attracted by yoga hideouts, Instagram-friendly white sands and ancient Mayan ruins. Declared as the world’s yoga capital in 2017, the city is also a staple of the world’s DJ circuits.

But violence has caused fear that it may follow the path of Acapulco – Once a fascinating resort town, it is now overwhelmed by drug violence.

“Tulum quickly becomes very dangerous and could become another Mexican monster town,” warns Dr. Rafael Barajas, president of the Tulum Civil Observatory. “Everyone is very angry with violence. We see this and are frightened and wondering if it will end.”

Between January and September, Tulum committed 65 murders – an increase of 80% Same time last year..

A US firefighter was kidnapped from a resort and killed in July, two Mexicans were killed and an American woman was injured when a gunner fired from a jet ski in June. Visitors from Spain, Belize and Uruguay were also killed.

Investigators in Tulum collect information about the shootings that took place in a restaurant where two foreign tourists died.

Investigators in Tulum collect information about the shootings that took place in a restaurant where two foreign tourists died. Photo: Reuters

Two bullets rang downtown downtown this afternoon, but few people hit their eyelids. A group of traditional musicians started playing in the immediate vicinity.

Tourists often do not stay long, so they appear to be barely aware of the heightened conflict, but locals explain the atmosphere of fear and distrust.

In April, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known as Amuro, described local police as “rotten.” Was exchanged By state officials after a series of abuses, including the death of El Salvador refugees in custody.

The Mexican government has announced plans to deploy a National Guard battalion in the area and build a base in Tulum.

However, Amuro’s security strategy cannot stop bloodshed and the murder rate remains stubbornly high. The president has been criticized for relying on the army rather than reforming police, which are often overwhelmed by the fight against criminal factions.

Local officials say about 10 rival groups are fighting to control Tulum’s blackmail racket and the lucrative local drug market. “We are facing drug supply and demand issues,” prosecutor Oscar Montesdeoka told local radio.

Hotel owners have blamed rising demand for drugs during the festival and party boom that lasted throughout the pandemic.

One bar worker said the facility was faced with the choice of paying a protection racket, allowing the sale of drugs on the premises, or closing it.

The rapid growth of Tulum’s tourism industry has resulted in not only violence, but also markedly uneven development and serious environmental damage.

“If we follow this path, more and more mass shootings will occur and people will continue to sell their place and leave,” said a spokesman for Sustainable Tulum, a group of environmental activists. Carla Asebed said. “Tulum needs to decide what destination it wants to be.”

“Birds and mammals were killed on the freeway after escaping big events in the jungle and loud music,” she adds. “In addition, we are connected to the world’s largest underground freshwater system and are contaminated due to the lack of proper sewerage.”

Members of the newly created National Guard Tourism Battalion patrol the beaches of Cancun along the coast from Tulum.

Members of the newly created National Guard Tourism Battalion patrol the coastal beaches of Cancun from Tulum. Photo: Elizabeth Lewis / AFP / Getty Images

The new airport is expected to boost the tourism industry, which makes up the majority of the state’s income. A record number of Americans will reportedly visit the Quintana Roo region in 2020, with approximately 4 million tourists from all countries visiting Tulum each year.

To meet growing demand, new condominiums and luxury hotels are being built rapidly, casting a shadow over the neighboring shantytowns.

“When you come to a place like Tulum, you feel like you can do whatever you want,” said Acevedo, an investor, tourist and criminal. “There is so much corruption and impunity. It creates a sense of chaos.”