This year, 20 foreigners who attempted to travel to Cancun were detained by airport authorities, after being found with firearms on their person. 14 were arrested for possession of weapons that should only be used by the Armed Forces, whilst a further two were arrested for possession of gun cartridges. A final three were arrested and charged with additional federal crimes.
16 of the 20 travellers are of American nationality, making up an overwhelming majority of those arrested. The remaining four are of Belizean, Dominican and British descent.
Most recently, a British tourist made headlines in Cancun after being found with a suitcase stuffed with drugs. After flying from Amsterdam to Cancun, she attempted to enter the city through the airport’s second terminal but was swiftly apprehended by members of the National Guard and the National Customs Agency of Mexico. This prompted the authorities to search her luggage thoroughly.
Sources suggest that her suitcase contained nine packages of drugs, stored in bags hidden within a secret compartment of the suitcase. The white, powdery substance found in the bags is currently assumed to be cocaine.
Last week, the British woman and another American woman who also recently attempted to smuggle drugs into Cancun were transferred to the city’s Center for Social Reintegration, where they are set to face criminal proceedings for drug and firearm smuggling. Both were detained by airport security shortly after arriving in Cancun.
Tourists who attempt to smuggle firearms or drugs into the state of Quintana Roo will be subjected to a huge jail sentence: the possession of drugs (without intent to supply or trade) could lead to a prison sentence of ten months to three years.
However, the length of jail time worsens if a significant amount of drugs is found on a traveller, as authorities then have reason to believe that they could supply or trade them throughout the state. The minimum jail sentence for this scenario is 3 to 6 years, based on the severity of the crime.
The most severe penalty is given to those who are caught in the act of trading or trafficking drugs internationally, with a heavy sentence of 4 to 8 years in prison. It is clear to see that the state of Quintana Roo takes its drug policy incredibly seriously.
Experts in drug policy believe that an increase in drug and weapon smuggling has occurred in Cancun and the state of Quintana Roo due to an increase in the region’s popularity: as Cancun is now one of the most popular places to visit worldwide, it makes sense that there is an increase in violent crime as the demand for illegal drugs has grown significantly.
Officials have even found an increase in drug packages on some of the most popular beaches in Quintana Roo, including Playa San Martin in Cozumel.
The National Survey of the Population Deprived of Liberty (ENPOL) found that the illegal carrying of weapons and illegal possession of drugs are the two most prevalent crimes committed by tourists in Quintana Roo penitentiary centres in 2021. To prevent an increase in drug and weapon smuggling, state authorities are working on new campaigns to remind tourists of the risks associated with smuggling, as well as increasing surveillance of entry points into Cancun and other tourist-populated areas.
All tourists entering Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or elsewhere in Quintana Roo are reminded to obey Mexico’s rules surrounding drug and firearm possession and to report any suspicious activity to local authorities.
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