Travellers looking to visit the tropical paradise of Isla Mujeres this summer have been advised to be extra vigilant of their surroundings after armed attackers robbed beachgoers last weekend. This led the U.S State Department to update their travel advisory for the state of Quintana Roo, demanding that ‘increased caution’ should now be taken due to the rise of illicit activities and violent crime in the region.
Isla Mujeres is just a quick 20-minute ferry ride away from the tourist-saturated town of Cancun, perfect for travellers looking for a quiet and idyllic retreat away from the busyness of everyday life. However, the quiet nature of the island does not make it immune to violence from criminals.
The most recent attack took place on Isla Blanca beach, between the Extreme Zona Beach Spa hotel and Cabanes de Isla Blanca. Here, six thieves on jet-skis robbed tourists and Mexican beachgoers at gunpoint. The incident also lead to an active member of the Mexican Army being severely beaten by the criminals, who has since been taken to hospital to recover from his injuries.
Whilst police arrived on the scene after numerous 911 reports stated that there was an injured person present, they have not yet found the perpetrators responsible for the attack. With the rate of violent crime increasing exponentially in the surrounding area of Cancun, is Isla Mujeres still considered to be a safe destination for tourists?
Overall, Isla Mujeres is thought to be a relatively safe option for travel within the Caribbean coast of Mexico. There has undoubtedly been an increase in instances of violent crime in the past 5 years, including the execution of construction workers and the murder of a police officer alongside the recent robbery. As such, the U.S State Department has urged travellers in Isla Mujeres (and the rest of Quintana Roo State) to exercise increased caution when travelling.
The travel advisory level for Mexico as a whole also moved from a Level 1 (to take normal precautions in travel) to Level 2 (to take increased caution in travel), due to multiple instances of bystanders getting caught up in shootings between rival gangs.
The report also states that there has been an influx of U.S citizens affected by non-violent crime in Quintana Roo, such as petty theft. The official website for the island, IslandMujeres.net, is now reminding all potential visitors to use their common sense and not leave valuable items, including jewellery and electronic devices, on display for thieves.
By keeping expensive items hidden and avoiding any signs of conflict on the island, tourists should be able to stay safe on their vacations.
Tourists in the area can also rest assured that they will be protected by the Tourist Security Battalion in Isla Mujeres if violent crime does occur. Initially deployed in Cancun and Tulum in November 2021, the battalion is a special part of the national guard designed to patrol tourist-frequented beaches and hotels across Quintana Roo.
As armed soldiers, their presence in Isla Mujeres helps to deter crime from happening in the first place.
To put travellers further at ease, the state of Yucatan (where Isla Mujeres is located) has been ranked fourth on a list of states with the lowest crime rates in Mexico for 2021. Overall, visitors to Isla Mujeres are most concerned about being mugged or robbed, as well as the corruption of state police.
However, by listening to directions from the Tourist Security Battalion and monitoring the U.S State Department’s travel advisory for Mexico, tourists should be able to stay safe and remain vigilant of potential crime in the area.
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