Strengthened Security Forces In Quintana Roo Continue Successful Drug Busts
A police sweep in Tulum led to the arrest of 12 people, along with the seizure of thousands of doses of drugs and several weapons. The busts are the next in a line of successful arrests in the region to help combat the effects of organized crime.
The state department of Quintana Roo announced the arrests, documenting pictures of the eleven men and one female that had been taken into custody. According to the police, cocaine and marijuana made up the bulk of the drug haul, and the weapons found included a Beretta handgun with live ammunition. Significant amounts of cash and burner cell phones were also found. All of the arrests were made in the Tulum hotel zone.
The majority of the drugs seized were already packaged into quantities small enough to sell, and those found with the drugs may be charged with the intent to sell.
The arrests were part of a collaborative effort between the Secretary of National Defense, the Navy, the National Guard, the national intelligence center, and the local police.
Although the discovery of large quantities of drugs may seem shocking, the arrest should be seen as a sign of progress. With all of the organizations involved working together successfully, it can be expected that more arrests will take place in the near future, gradually securing the city.
The collaboration is part of a larger operation launched by the state and Quintana Roo and the Mexican government. The state has been dealing with the negative consequences of organized crime for some time now, and recent months have seen several high-profile incidents take place in the public eye where tourists are at risk.
One tragic event saw two visitors to the area killed in the crossfire between gangs. It should be noted that the violence initiated by these gangs is rarely targeted at tourists, but the risk of collateral damage rises every time something happens.
One exception to this happened just last weekend in Playa del Carmen. A British ex-pat was the victim of a targeted assassination that saw him shot dead in front of his fourteen-year-old daughter. At present, there are no obvious links between the victim and any organized crime, but a chilling warning was directed at him a month before the attack suggesting there is more to uncover. The victim, Mr. Chris Cleave, was a permanent resident of Mexico and worked as a real estate agent in the area.
As incidents like this grew more frequent in 2021 and early 2022, the Quintana Roo government began taking steps to secure the region. The arrival of the Tourists Security Battalion, a new branch of the Mexican National Guard, heralded the government’s new focus.
More recently, strategy meetings with the FBI, DEA, and EU members resulted in the creation of a ten-step plan to help counter organized crime. Some of the new methods include expanded patrols from the battalion and increased surveillance.
The surveillance, in particular, may prove particularly useful as the security cameras of many restaurants, hotels, and bars have been included in the police’s own circuits. Permanent surveillance means that police or battalion deployment could be preemptive instead of reactive, significantly reducing the risk to tourists.
It will be a slow process to secure the state and the battle may never be fully over, but arrests such as this in Tulum show the progress that is being made by the state and country as a whole. Cancun and the rest of Quintana Roo are far too important an asset to leave unprotected. Especially as many of the region’s competitors begin opening their borders and dropping COVID restrictions.
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