A dozen drug gangs fight for the Mexican Caribbean – KSNF / KODE – FourStatesHomepage.com

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PUERTO MORELOS, Mexico (AP) – The shooting of two suspected drug traffickers at a complex on Mexico’s Caribbean coast is part of a fight between a dozen gangs to carve out the lucrative market of selling drugs to tourists and to residents, an official said on Friday. .

The chief prosecutor for the coastal state of Quintana Roo said two main gangs are fighting for control of Puerto Morelos, just south of Cancun. Thursday’s shooting took place on a beach a few meters from luxury hotels.

But a dozen gangs are fighting over the sale of drugs on the streets in Tulum, a seaside town further south. A Californian woman and a German tourist were killed in a gang shootout two weeks ago, and three other tourists were injured.

“In Tulum we have about 10 drug trafficking groups and here in Puerto Morelos there are two groups fighting,” prosecutor Oscar Montes de Oca told Imagen Radio station.

Montes de Oca said the commando of around 15 men armed with masked drug gangs arrived in vehicles and stormed Puerto Morelos beach by entering through a hotel parking lot – not by boat, as Governor Carlos Joaquin had declared the day before.

Montes de Oca said on Friday they fled in a boat they requisitioned after the attack.

The dramatic shooting sent tourists scrambling for shelter on the beach outside the Azul Beach Resort and Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun.

Montes de Oca said that the presence of more than 20 million tourists each year in the coastal state is a strong attraction for retail drug sales. “We are facing a problem of drug supply and demand,” he said.

Cartels fighting for the region’s lucrative retail drug trade include the Jalisco Cartel and a gang allied with the Gulf Cartel.

Montes de Oca said one of the men targeted in the attack fled to one of the hotels before he died. The other was killed on the beach. One person suffered non-life threatening injuries in the attack, but authorities could not immediately determine whether that person was a hotel employee or a guest.

Joaquin called the attack a “serious blow to the development and security of the state … seriously jeopardizing the image of the state”.

Antonio Chaves, the head of the Maya Riviera Hotel Association, told The Associated Press that the shootings will impact the state’s tourism industry, which is recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is clear that we are going to suffer setbacks in the very near term,” said Chaves, adding that while it causes suffering, it is unlikely to deter drug gangs.

“These are criminal groups who do not care about the place, the time, the environment and affect the tourist area,” he said.

The shootings were the latest chapter in drug gang violence that has marred the reputation of Mexico’s Caribbean coast as a once tranquil oasis.

Guests at both resorts have posted images of tourists hiding or swarming nervously in the lobbies on social media.

Keith Jackson, a tourist from London, England, left the beach just before the shooting. But he said on Friday: “We’re not sure we’ll be back. We’re not sure we’ll be back after this.

“The two women who were killed in Tulum, you know, in the crossfire, you know, that’s what happened,” Jackson said. “So we’re all scared that something will happen while we’re out there and we’re caught up in the action. “

Just before they left, Jackson and Marie Hitches, also from London, said they saw around five masked men walking on the beach before the shooting, even asking questions of a lifeguard and security personnel, apparently looking for the traffickers. drug rivals, who had disguised themselves. as sellers of trinkets.

“They went up to the lifeguard tower and they threatened and they asked for information and they threatened him with a gun, asking him, you know, if I had seen the two new guys walking up and down. wide on the beach. ” Jackson said.

“And he (the rescuer) came in on the radio, and that’s when security came out,” Jackson added, claiming that while security officers spoke to suspected cartel members, “nothing was happening. It was about two hours later when the shooting took place.

Rival cartels often kill street dealers from other gangs in Mexico to eliminate competition and ensure their drugs are sold first. This is not the first time that tourists have been caught up in such battles.

The Puerto Morelos shooting comes two weeks after California travel blogger Anjali Ryot of San Jose, Calif., And German citizen Jennifer Henzold were killed by crossfire in what prosecutors said was a clash over street drug sales in Tulum.

Three other foreign tourists were injured in the October 20 shooting at a street side restaurant just off the main drag in Tulum. They included two German men and a Dutch woman.

Montes de Oca said eight suspects in the Tulum attack were held in possession of firearms.

The German Foreign Ministry issued a travel advisory on violence, advising its citizens: “If you are currently in the Tulum or Playa del Carmen area, do not leave your secure hotel facilities.

There were signs that the situation in the state of Quintana Roo, where all the resorts are located, was out of control months ago. In June, two men were shot dead on Tulum beach and a third was injured.

And near Playa del Carmen, police staged a massive raid in October on the town’s restaurant-lined Quinta Avenida, arresting 26 suspects – most apparently for selling drugs – after a town policewoman was arrested. shot and locked in the trunk of a car. Prosecutors said Friday they arrested a suspect in the murder.

The administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has placed its tourist hopes on the so-called Riviera Maya, where it has announced its intention to build an international airport and a stop for the Maya train, which will circulate in a loop around the Peninsula of Yucatan.

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AP journalist Fabiola Sánchez contributed to this report


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