MEXICAN CRIME WAVE Is it safe to travel to Cancun Playa del Carmen resort in Mexico issued with a US State Department warning after murder spree

Escalating drug cartel violence has rocked the popular Mexican holiday hotspot of Cancun

By Jon Lockett

ESCALATING drugs cartel violence rocked the Mexican holiday hotspot of Cancun after nine people were murdered in a 36-hour period in April 2018.

More than 100 people have now been killed in the popular beach resort since the start of 2018. Here’s what you need to know before you pack your bags for a holiday there…

Is it safe to travel to Cancun and other tourist spots in Mexico?

Drug-related violence in Mexico has increased massively in recent years with murders now commonplace.

Morgues even closed down in the Mexican state of Guerrero after they were inundated with gangland victims.

Many fatalities are those killed in turf wars between the different gangs competing for trafficking routes into the US.

Cops are trying to protect tourist destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Nuevo Vallarta.

However, in the first three months of 2018 more than 100 people were killed in Cancun alone.

In one 36-hour spell in April 2018 NINE PEOPLE were murdered.

On April 21, gunmen on water scooters shot at a beach vendor in Cancun’s hotel zone, though nobody was hurt.

The following month a beach vendor was killed in a double shooting on a Cancun beach by a gang on a speedboat.

And in August, eight bodies were found after a cartel murder spree – with two of the victims dismembered and found in separate plastic bags.

US authorities issued a “Level 2” advisory warning to travellers to “exercise increased caution”, adding “violent crime such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery is widespread”.

A State Department spokesman said: “While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organisation assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents injuring or killing bystanders have occurred.”

Current Foreign Office advice says visitors should follow local advice and be vigilant, and tourists should take particular care not to be caught up in violence between criminal groups.

 

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What can I do to stop falling a victim to crime?

The chances of a tourist being murdered are still very slim as most killings are gang related.

However, crime and violence are serious problems in Mexico and the security situation can still pose a risk for foreigners.

You should research your destination thoroughly and only travel during daylight hours when possible.

Monitor local media and inform trusted contacts of your travel plans, advises the UK Foreign Office.

When driving, avoid isolated roads and use toll roads (cuotas) whenever possible.

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How can I beat the pickpockets?

Street crime is a serious problem in major cities and tourist resort areas.

Pick-pocketing is common on the Mexico City Metro and other tourist hotspots.

Dress down and avoid wearing expensive jewellery or watches and limit the amount of cash you carry with you.

Keep a close watch on briefcases and luggage, even in apparently secure places like the lobby of your hotel.

Take care when withdrawing money from ATMs or exchanging money at Bureau de Change.

Be wary of people presenting themselves as police officers trying to fine or arrest you for no apparent reason.

If in doubt, ask for identification and if possible note the officer’s name, badge number and patrol car number.

21 Things Not to Do in Mexico

Most travel guides will give you lists of things to do in a destination, but often the “what not to dos” are just as important considerations. Whether you are going to a Baja beach, a Yucatan resort, a small mountain village, or a big city south of the border, there are certain things to keep in mind when visiting this great country. We would hate for you to commit a social faux pas or put yourself in grave danger, so here’s our list of 21 things NOT to do in Mexico to ensure you have the safest, most memorable trip ever.

1. Don’t Hitch a Ride in a Libre Taxi

Taxis are extremely popular amongst tourists, but when it comes to getting around Mexico, you’ll definitely want to avoid this mode of transportation. Many taxi companies are unlicensed, resulting in their drivers being unmonitored and unsupervised. Before hopping into the back of any ol’ vehicle and potentially putting your life in danger, make sure the taxi has clear and proper signage. Your hotel should also be able to vouch for which companies are legit. And as a bonus tip: negotiate your fare before getting into the cab.

2. Don’t Flaunt Your Valuables

This one is a no-brainer, but we thought we’d add it as a friendly reminder just in case you’re planning on packing all of your fancy duds for your Mexican vacay. Walking around with blinging jewelry, an expensive camera dangling from around your neck, and an expensive handbag hanging from your shoulder will make you an easy target for thieves. To play it safe, try to blend in with the locals by taking a less-is-more approach when it comes to your clothing and accessories.

3. Don’t End Your Night Without Going to Dietrich Roma

Taking inspiration from German actress Marlene Dietrich, Dietrich Roma in Mexico City is a mansion-turned-cocktail bar where the who’s who of the city convene. After a day of exploring and enjoying some of the country’s finest cuisine, Dietrich Roma is the perfect place to get a nightcap, from their fruity Lily Tequila or their rum-filled Man by the Roadside. And don’t forget to take a picture in their on-site photo booth before heading out!

4. Don’t Over-Plan

Leave some room for serendipity and spontaneity. That is when the magic of travel happens, not on a pre-scheduled tour bus or around the hotel pool. Get out there and explore Mexico a little. You never know when you’re going to find a cozy cafe, stumble upon a street performance or get swept up in a zocalo fiesta.

5. Don’t Use the Metro System During Rush Hour

When hora pico (rush hour) comes around, the streets and highways of the major cities in Mexico turn into parking lots. During the peak hours of 7-10 a.m. and 5-8 p.m., you’ll want to refrain from using the metro system – that is unless you don’t mind getting stuck in traffic and being crammed inside a packed bus.

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