Cancun Cartel Violence

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Cancun Cartel Violence Kills 4 Near a Beach in Cancun

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Cancun Cartel Kills 4 near the beach in Cancun 

According to authorities, drug gang rivalries were likely the cause of the deaths of four men in Cancun. The state of Quintana Roo stated that Hector Flores Aceves, also known as “Pantera,” was connected to the killings. The victims were discovered on Monday in the city’s hotel zone by the beach. This happened during one of Cancun’s busiest times of the year, Easter Week vacations. 

It was announced that the state had offered a $50,000 reward for Flores Aceves, who is believed to be involved in the series of attacks and killings at bars in Cancun that occurred in May 2022. However, it should be noted that this reward has been offered for his arrest since the time of the attacks. Officials have identified Flores Aceves by the nicknames “El 15” and “Rey” (“King”).


🇲🇽 Mexico Travel Resources We Use:


The police chief of Quintana Roo at the time, Lucio Hernández, stated that Flores Aceves and a rival who were involved in the bar attacks were members of the Sinaloa cartel which had split in the region. In the attacks, two people were killed and eight were injured in shooting incidents at two bars in Cancun.

Hernández previously stated that the two gangs were attempting to have dominion over the marketplace in order to carry out their unlawful deeds. These deeds include trading drugs, abducting people, and demanding “protection money” from business proprietors through threats of violence or murder.

An announcement was made regarding recent homicides, but no new information was provided about the cause. However, two suspects have been caught. It is typical for Mexican gangs to claim certain areas as their own and prohibit any other gang from selling drugs there. If anyone defies this rule, they risk being killed. Reuters published photos of the Fiesta Americana hotel, where the local police, Mexican National Guard and representatives from the attorney general’s office were present.

On April 3, local media reported that a vehicle from the attorney general’s office left the Fiesta Americana hotel in Cancun, Mexico after people were shot near the beach of the hotel. These shootings occurred just a few days after a U.S. traveler was shot in the leg in the neighboring town of Puerto Morelos. The motive for that shooting is still being investigated.

Last month, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert advising travelers to be extra cautious when visiting Mexico’s Caribbean beach resorts such as the city of Cancun, the neighboring city Playa del Carmen, and further south the town of Tulum. There have been instances of drug gang violence in the past in these regions, and travelers are advised to be particularly vigilant after dark.

The State Department has issued again a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” warning for Tamaulipas, the Mexican state where four Americans were recently kidnapped. This warning follows a spate of violent incidents in the popular tourist destination along the Caribbean coast.

In June 2022, two Canadians lost their lives in Playa del Carmen likely due to disputes between international drug and weapons trafficking gangs. This follows an incident last January when two Canadians were killed and another person was injured in a shooting at a resort close to Cancun. Additionally, in March 2022, a British resident of Playa del Carmen was fatally shot while riding in his car with his daughter in broad daylight.

In October 2021, two tourists – one from California, a travel blogger born in India, and the other from Germany – were killed in Tulum, a relaxed destination located farther south. They were apparently caught in the crossfire of a gunfight between rival drug dealers. The next month, two suspected drug dealers were shot and killed near Cancun’s beach, causing tourists in swimsuits to panic and flee.

If you’re planning to go to Mexico? What you should know about the Drug Cartel

AAA has reported that more American college students are choosing Mexico as a top destination for spring break this year. Bookings data shows a rise of 30% in international travel compared to 2022. Among the popular destinations, Cancún with its beautiful turquoise waters and vibrant nightlife has gained significant attention from travelers.

Is it safe to travel to Mexico, given the recent headlines about drug cartels and the violence towards a group of Americans who crossed the border for a medical procedure in Matamoros? This is a valid concern for both students and parents.

Mexico is a large country that requires a 30-hour drive from Matamoros to Cancun. However, news about cartel violence often covers up the many other important events related to the economy, trade, and tourism.

Foreign travelers are generally not prime targets of the high levels of violence in Mexico. 

The recent kidnapping deaths in Matamoros were believed to be a case of mistaken identity. Although Mexico experiences high levels of violence, the risk to foreign travelers is still relatively low. Recently, a faction of the Gulf Cartel known as the Scorpions apologized for an attack and handed over some of their members to the authorities. However, the Texas Department of Public Safety has advised against traveling to Mexico for spring break due to this incident.

According to a report, over 20 million international tourists traveled to Mexico by air in 2022, and most of them arrived in Cancún or Mexico City. More than 60% of these travelers were Americans. According to Bernardo Cueto, the Secretary of Tourism in Quintana Roo, most of the tourists who visited the Mexican Caribbean had a good experience. He also mentioned that in 2022, there were very few negative incidents involving tourists. Additionally, efforts are being made to ensure the safety of both residents and visitors, and to prevent organized crime groups from accessing main tourist destinations.

Mexico is a large and diverse country with varying levels of violence. While some tourist areas do have some issues with insecurity, these problems typically do not directly impact tourists. It is important to note that threats to tourists in Mexico may come from sources beyond Mexican criminals or citizens, such as intoxicated or high Americans.

Is Cancun Safe? 

While many tourists have positive experiences in Mexico, it’s important to acknowledge that the country is experiencing violence. Recent news has reported shootouts, assassinations of officials, and cities under siege following prominent arrests. Despite a slight decrease in the homicide rate, it’s important to recognize that violence is still prevalent in Mexico. Claims that everything is perfectly fine are not supported by the data. The Cancun Safety Guide provides more info about the safety situation in Cancun. If you are planning a trip to Tulum or Playa del carmenthen make sure you read “Is Tulum Safe for Travel? and “Is Playa del Carmen Safe for Travel?” 

According to data from the World Bank, Mexico had a historically high homicide rate of 29 intentional killings per 100,000 people in 2019, which slightly decreased to 28 in 2020.

The U.S. State Department suggests avoiding travel to six Mexican states, including Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas. Only two states, Yucatán and Campeche, have a mild “Exercise Normal Precautions” alert. The most frequented states by Americans, including Quintana Roo and Mexico City, come under “Exercise Increased Caution” alerts. Meade clarified that the difference between violence in Mexico and violence some cities in the U.S. is lack of consequences. He said that in Mexico, over 90% of homicide rates don’t result in arrests.

As of 2020, around 50% of violence occurs in the U.S. However, experts believe that cartels do not typically target tourists. According to Hope, most tourists are unlikely to encounter cartel violence. Instead, the violence that tourists may encounter tends to be more localized.

Never Let your Guard Down in Mexico

Although some spring breakers may prefer places with fewer restrictions to party, it is important to note that the laws in Mexico are often just as strict, if not stricter, compared to the laws in the U.S. It is not a valid excuse to claim ignorance of the law. According to Cueto, the Quintana Roo tourism secretary, there are instances where tourists come looking for illegal substances, but campaigns have been established to discourage the purchase and consumption of such substances due to their illegality.

According to Cueto, small criminal gangs that work for big drug cartels control local drug markets in Mexico, and most of the country’s violence is linked to the drug trade. It’s important to avoid buying from dealers since they are not reliable and could cause problems for you.

Traveling to areas beyond the usual tourist spots to find drugs can result in significant issues. Parents should be concerned, particularly if their children are venturing into unsafe zones to buy or use drugs or visit a brothel. This kind of behavior puts individuals at more risk of encountering organized crime and potential danger. Security analyst Hope supports this view and recommends avoiding contact with these criminal groups by not engaging in their products.

Don’t forget to use common sense

According to experts, using common sense is crucial for a safe and enjoyable international travel experience, no matter where you go. It’s important for both parents and travelers to recognize that crime can vary greatly in specific locations, and not just consider broad trends.

If you find yourself in trouble, the concierge can often assist you. It’s a good idea to keep a hard copy of your passport and credit card information as a backup in case your phone is lost or stolen. Mexico offers many enjoyable activities, but remember that being drunk and foolish late at night on the street could lead to trouble, which applies both in Cancun and Chicago.

Traveling to 🇲🇽 Mexico soon?

I recommend these travel resources for Mexico that I personally use:

🏨 Hotels: I have found that Expedia and consistently have the best deals on hotels and resorts in Mexico. If you prefer to stay at a vacation rental, check VRBO that is usually cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!

✈️ Flights: To find the best flight deals to Mexico, I always use Kayak. Remember to subscribe to their price alerts for the travel dates you want. Another great alternative for flight deals is Expedia.

🚗 Rental Cars: I always use and highly recommend Discover Cars because it allows me to compare several car rental companies and view ratings on various factors such as overall value, pick-up procedure, agent efficiency, car condition, and total time taken.

🚙 Cancun Airport Transportation: For the fastest and easiest way to travel, I suggest arranging a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation. Honestly, no better way to travel from the airport to your hotel or resort.

🤿 Tours & Activities: For tours and activities in Mexico, I highly recommend using either Viator or GetYourGuide. These websites offer a full refund if you cancel your booking 24 hours before the start of the tour, and they also provide excellent customer service in case of any issues.

🚨 Travel Insurance: I always suggest purchasing travel insurance as a precaution before traveling, especially after a recent accident in a taxi in Mexico. For short trips, I recommend Travel Insurance Master, whereas for digital nomads, Safety Wing is a better option.

📷 Best Camera for your trip: I always carry with me a GoPro, It’s light, compact, takes great video and pictures, and most importantly, it’s waterproof! You just can’t go wrong with one. If you are interested in higher quality video and photography, I always carry with me on my trips and highly recommend the Sony A7IV which I think is the best travel DSLR Camera out there.

☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Remember to include a good sunscreen to protect yourself from the summer sun. I always use and suggest Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is vegan, reef-friendly, and cruelty-free.