While crime happens everywhere, including in Cancun, it is the type of crime that determines how safe or unsafe a destination is. And amidst the questions of safety in the Mexican Caribbean, the most serious of crimes have decreased in Cancun. Overall, crime is up less than 5 percent in the popular tourist destination, and the number of homicides in recent weeks has actually decreased.
Crime rates in Cancun and the rest of the country are measured by a “traffic light” system that is used to display how prevalent a certain type of crime is in any given area. Red means that a specific type of crime happens a lot, or at least more than it should. And, of course, yellow means that the rate of a certain type of crime is somewhere in the middle, not out of control, but not nonexistent either.
In October, the U.S. State Department issued advisories regarding travel to certain areas of Mexico due to an increase in criminal activity. While the department advised not to visit some states in the country, the advisory for the state of Quintana Roo was to “exercise increased caution” when traveling to the state. The reason for this, according to the advisory, is due to “crime and kidnapping.”
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Quintana Roo is the state that is home to Cancun and a number of other popular vacation destinations. It is located on the Yucatán Peninsula in the Riviera Maya region of the country. It is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, which is one of the many reasons it has become such a popular place to vacation, particularly for American, Canadian, and European tourists.
While crime will always exist in the state, there have not been an excessive number of kidnappings recorded in Quintana Roo, and in fact, as of September, only one had been recorded this year. Furthermore, homicides in Cancun were down by about 16 percent in October compared to the previous month. It is also important to note that the majority of these crimes do not involve tourists but rather rival drug dealers fighting over territory.
To deal with the crime that does exist in Cancun and other areas of the Mexican Caribbean, officials have increased security at various times over the past year. During the busiest times, they have deployed elements of the different military branches to patrol the beaches and tourist areas. Most recently, more than 200 officers of the Mexican Navy were sent to the Mexican Caribbean region to help prevent crime.
Deploying the military to various popular tourist cities in the state is a preventative measure more than it is a response to the level of crime. The military presence is a way to deter criminals from committing crimes in these areas, but tourists can take steps themselves to avoid being the victim of a crime as well. Not going out alone at night, always traveling with a partner, avoiding unknown areas, and staying inside tourist areas are all ways to stay out of situations that could result in becoming a victim.
No matter where you decide to vacation, there is always going to be some level of crime, as no place is completely devoid of criminals. The U.S. State Department issued a warning to use caution when traveling to Quintana Roo, but this is good advice regardless of where you decide to vacation. Cancun is as safe as any popular vacation destination in the Mexican Caribbean, and the addition of security elements will continue to keep the millions of tourists that travel there every year safe and secure.
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