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Cancun Cartel - Gun Violence Ambush at Cancun Airport

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Mexico Meyhem: Airports Closed Amid Cancun Drug Cartel Violence

On January 5th, a horrific fight exploded between cartel members and security forces in Culiacan following the detention of El Chapo‘s son. This violence rapidly spread across Sinoloa state as cartels barricaded roads, burned vehicles and even fired bullets into two planes at an airport! The tragic consequences are still felt today all over Mexico.


🇲🇽 Mexico Travel Resources We Use:


Cancun Cartel Violence - Cartel Ambushes Cancun Airport
Cancun Drug Cartel Violence – Cartel Ambushes Cancun Airport

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Cancun Cartel Violence
Cancun Drug Cartel Violence – National Patrol being deployed in Cancun Hotel Zone, Playa del Carmen bars, Tulum and other places across the Caribbean coast state

Airport closures

The turbulence in the region forced several airports to shut down, including MMCL/Culiacan. At this airport, an Aeroméxico E190 was shot at on take-off and had to abort its flight. Unfortunately, one bullet managed to penetrate the tail of the aircraft – a testament that tensions are high throughout the area.

On January 6th, many Sinaloa airports –– MMMZ/Mazatlan, MMCN/Ciudad Obregon, and MMLM/Los Michos–– remained closed. Fortunately, all have now re-opened; however it is still advised to take special precautions when traveling in the area. Book arrangements ahead of time and ensure routes are not affected by any airspace closures for optimal safety during your journey!

High Alert on all Major Tourist Cities and Towns after Cancun Cartel Violence

High Alert on all Major Tourist Cities and Towns after Cancun Cartel Violence

Mexico overview

Mexico has been a safe and secure destination for travelers until recently, but there are currently several precautionary alerts by Mexican authorities in effect as of January 2023:

  • GA operators traveling to Cancun should exercise increased caution! A0064/23 and A0065/22 are currently in effect, which mean certain restriction will be enforced on 7th and 8th January. Make sure you adhear to the notams issued on 4th of Janurary 2023 for a smooth entry into Cancun International Airport airspace.
  • Attention all passengers and crew members flying to MMTO/Toluca! Beginning January 2, 2023, you are now required to fill out a new health screening form upon arrival. Don’t worry – it’s simple information that should only take a few minutes of your time!
  • Mexican airports are expected to undergo more rigorous ramp checks through January 20th, according to MMZZ/Mexico’s local agents. To be prepared for any such checkpoints during your travels in Mexico, make sure you check out our article on what essential documents and items should always travel with you! This information is accurate as of December 22nd 2022.
  • Mexico recently abolished Daylight Saving Time (DST) in most regions of the country, abandoning any clock adjustments from April onward. Standard time will be applied throughout Mexico every year except for certain municipalities that neighbor the United States — these areas remain DST compliant. This decision was put into effect on December 6th, 2022.
  • On March 2022, fifteen of Mexico’s airports made the switch from Jet A1 to Jet A fuel. These large international hub locations include MMMY/Monterrey, MMPR/Puerto Vallarta and MMCL/Culiacan. It is essential to ensure that your jet has proper freeze-level resistance – minus 40 degrees Celsius in this case – as using a fuel with an inadequate freezing point could cause major issues for planes flying through particularly cold atmospheres. Be mindful when filling up your jets; issued October 20th 2022!
  • On May 7th, an alarming near-miss at MMMX/Mexico City airport caused heightened concerns surrounding safety standards. This followed a chain of other incidents that have been linked to the Felipe Angeles Airport opening and resulting airspace complexity. To rectify this, the government will be decreasing capacity at MMMX/ Mexico City over subsequent months in order to revive security conditions – as issued on May 11 2022.
Cancun Airport Map - Terminals
Cancun Airport Map – Terminals

Cancun Incidents

Until recently, Cancun city’s hotel zone and other resorts were considered safe places to travel. However, due to the increased conflict between drug cartels fighting for control of the Caribbean coast and its drug trade, bodies of victims have been found in clandestine body dumping grounds.

According to the state of Quintana Roo on the Caribbean coast state, Hector Flores Aceves, a leader of a drug gang known as “Pantera” or “The Panther,” was involved in the recent killings of several men found near the beach in the city’s hotel zone on Monday. These killings occurred during the busy Easter Week vacations in Cancun.

Five  bodies were found at an abandoned construction site. Last month, there was a shooting near Cancun’s beach which resulted in the death of two suspected drug dealers. Tourists in swimsuits were frightened and fled the scene in panic.

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.