Visitors headed to Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean can expect to see more troops patrolling popular tourist streets this summer as the government steps up its fight against organized crime. The more than 300 members of the Mexican armed forces deployed to Cancun is the latest show of force from the federal government aimed at stopping criminal activity in the area and keeping tourists safe.
This Thursday saw the arrival of over 300 armed personnel from the Mexican army in Cancun to guarantee visitors’ safety over the summer. The reinforcements come amid a general rise in crime rates in the state, as the government takes action to protect locals and tourists from organized crime.
The busy summer period is expected to bring millions of sun-seeking tourists to the Mexican Caribbean. Cancun is to welcome the lion’s share of all international tourists, mostly from the United States and Canada, as visitors flock to the city’s beaches and resorts.
Officials from the Mexican armed forces say that the new contingent will focus on patrolling busy touristy areas in the northern parts of the state, including hotspots such as Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Tulum. The armed guards will also work closely with intelligence services to deter organized crime groups operating in the area.
In addition to protecting tourists, authorities say that stopping homicides is a top priority. According to a statement given by general Roberto Pérec Ceja, one of the main goals will be “limiting the dangerous actions of organized crime groups in Benito Juárez (Cancun), especially homicides”. Meanwhile, a number of troops will be patrolling the hotel zone, home to the majority of Cancun’s top luxury resorts.
Among other measures, the armed personnel may carry out random inspections of vehicles around popular tourist attractions, including beaches and busy shopping streets. Moreover, various units from the Mexican army and National Guard will work with local and state police agencies to coordinate and carry out joint operations. Authorities have stressed that the preventive measures carried out by the armed forces have strong legal guarantees, and are aimed at ensuring the rule of law in the area.
Cancun and Quintana Roo have already received armed troops on various occasions this year, stemming from both the state and national levels. In total, there are around 4000 armed guards spread around the Mexican Caribbean.
Crime rates have been a major concern this year in Quintana Roo and Cancun, with several high-profile incidents affecting tourists. Although visitors are rarely involved in violent crime, hotels in the area have been asking for more reinforcements from the national level to deter criminals from targeting tourists.
Petty crimes, including pickpocketing or scams, are the main concern facing travelers this summer. Meanwhile, Cancun authorities have issued several guidelines on how to stay safe while vacationing in the Mexican Caribbean, which include avoiding dimly lit outdoor places or walking unaccompanied outside of resort areas.
Although crime statistics paint a bleak picture, the state government has reiterated on various occasions that the Mexican Caribbean remains safe for visitors. Moreover, several popular destinations such as Playa del Carmen have already seen improvements in safety as a result of coordinated action between different authorities.
Mexico has seen a nationwide increase in homicide rates in the past few years, with 33,000 reported in 2021 alone. For its part, Quintana Roo has recorded above-average crime rates, with more homicides, kidnappings, and drug-related crime rates when compared to other Mexican states. One of the major factors behind the phenomenon is the presence of organized crime groups, which are responsible in large part for the numbers.
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