The premier resort location looks to attract tourists despite concerns about violent crime.
Last October, Javier Aranda was feeling pretty optimistic.
Aranda, the new director of the Tourism Promotion Council of Quintana Roo, was reacting to the news that several destinations in the Mexican state had registered a combined 17 million tourist arrivals from January to September 2022.
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“Maybe we are going to have the most successful year in the history of Quintana Roo,” Aranda said in an interview with TravelPulse.
The council said roughly 5.6 million Americans visited Cancun and the surrounding area last year.
“Come and have a great experience; you will feel safe, which is great,” Aranda added.
Making tourists feel safe may be a bit of a challenged following reports that eight bodies were recently founded dumped in Cancun.
The bodies were found in a poor neighborhood about 10 miles from Cancun’s beach and hotel zone, but relatively closer to the resort’s airport, CBS News reported.
Feuding Drug Gangs
Five of the bodies were found at an abandoned construction site and three of them were later identified as previously reported missing people, according to Oscar Montes de Oca, Quintana Roo’s head prosecutor.
Montes de Oca’s office also published a Facebook post clarifying that the bodies did not turn up at a hotel beach and asking the public “not to publish and share on social networks false news that only damages the image of Quintana Roo.”
Feuding drug gangs have caused violence in Cancun and the Caribbean coast south of it.
Earlier this month, four men in Cancun were killed in a dispute related to drug gang rivalries. In March, a U.S. tourist was shot in the leg in the nearby town of Puerto Morelos in March.
Officials have said drug cartels often use secret dumping grounds to dispose of their victims.
Thirty-one bodies were exhumed by authorities from two clandestine graves in western Mexico in February.
More than 112,000 people are listed as missing in Mexico, and searches for clandestine grave sites have become common throughout the country.
What is unusual is that they are now being carried out in Cancun, a top resort destination, authorities said.
‘Exercise Increased Caution’
Law enforcement officials believe that drug gangs were behind the murders of four men in Cancun earlier this month.
Rival gangs are known to compete over exclusive resort areas as they seek to be the sole drug dealers to tourists at the vacation spots.
The U.S. State Department advised against traveling to six Mexico states, while encouraging American visitors to “exercise increased caution” when visiting several others, including Quinta Roo,, “due to crime and kidnapping.”
“Violent crime – such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery – is widespread and common in Mexico,’ the agency said in an Oct. 5 travel advisory.
Last month four Americans were kidnapped by gunmen in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, two of whom were later found dead.
After the kidnappings, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that Mexico was safer than the United States.
“There is no issue with traveling safely through Mexico,” he said during a press briefing, according to CNN. “That’s something the US citizens also know, just like our fellow Mexicans that live in the US.”
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This story was originally published April 28, 2023, 7:00 AM.
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