Shocking Crime Statistics Tell A Tale Of Two Cities
A new global report has listed Cancun as one of the fifty most dangerous cities in the world, placing it four places higher than last year at fortieth. But is the placement fair in regards to tourist safety?
The list, compiled by The Citizen Council For Public Security and Criminal Justice, saw several Mexican cities placed in the top 50, including eight of the top ten spots. But the list also includes seven US cities including St. Louis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Memphis.
Cancun has struggled with this reputation over the past few years. A shockingly high murder rate in the city has made it the focus of headlines around the world, warning tourists of even venturing to the seaside town. But the fact remains that the vast majority of tourists who spend time in Cancun and the greater region of Quintana Roo are perfectly safe.
The statistics used in the list are valid and, of course, should be taken seriously. Cancun saw 337 murders in 2021 and 2022 has already started with some horrifying numbers, leading to its homicide rate of 36.81 per 100,000. The global average is around 6 per 100,000. There is danger in the city due largely to the presence of organized crime.
The vast majority of these murders are directly related to the gangs involved with pushing drugs and rivalries between opposing groups. Virtually none of these incidents touch tourists in any way. In fact, in terms of tourist safety, Cancun is above the likes of Paris and Las Vegas – other global tourism superpowers that most visitors wouldn’t think twice about visiting.
The problem lies in the two sides of cities like Cancun. The city has something of a double life, where the organized crime that draws so much negative press functions in the shadows, well away from the resorts and beaches that pull tourists from around the world.
Recently, Cancun’s biggest issue is the unfortunate times where its darker side has begun functioning in the tourist spots. Several events have unfolded over the past year that has placed tourists at risk of being or have been collateral damage. The most tragic of these saw two tourists killed in the crossfire between rival gangs in Tulum.
Another major event that sparked travel advisories from the US and Canada was the shocking double assassination of two men at the Xcaret Hotel. The attack, which took place in broad daylight in the middle of the resort, involved two high-level members of a Canadian-Vietnamese crime syndicate. Again, no tourists were harmed, but the alarming nature of the attack adds to Quintana Roo’s deadly reputation, regardless of the statistics.
The Government is trying to combat this bleeding over by installing new programs and implementing extra security forces like the Tourist Security Battalion that now patrols the region. Recent meetings with the FBI and DEA have led to expansions of surveillance systems, allowing the police to function preemptively as opposed to reactionary. These things will all take time to show progress, but they are positive steps to help secure the region and ease the mind of any cynical tourist.
In reality, petty crime like pick-pocketing is much more of a risk for visitors. This trend is rampant in virtually every major tourist destination in the world. A mass of people with more cash than normal, dressed differently from locals, and uncomfortable in their surroundings is an obvious draw for petty thieves anywhere.
For the most part, the crime rates in Cancun don’t seem to be hampering the city’s success. The region is anticipating an extremely successful Spring Break and Easter period with hotel occupancy approaching 100% in some areas. How many tourists Cancun loses to the perceived threat is a tough statistic to calculate or even estimate. But with the right steps, whatever number that may be could be gained in the future.
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