At least 60 municipal police officers working in in Cancun have been fired since June as the city struggles to maintain security conditions in the popular Mexican tourist beach area. Some of the police officers had been extorting bribes from tourists and engaging in other criminal activities. The area also continues to see thriving cartel activity.
The news of the police officers’ firing came during a news conference conducted by local public security director Darwin Pac Acosta. The security director tried to downplay cartel violence and present an image of security in an effort to maintain the flow of foreign tourist visiting local beaches. According to local news outlet La Jornada Maya, out of a police force of more than 1,300 officers, Acosta and his staff fired 60 of them since June. The officers are suspected of extorting bribes and other criminal activity. The cops were forced to resign or face a further inquiry. Several police officers are under investigation by the state attorney general’s office for criminal activity.
According to Acosta’s statements, violence has decreased in the area including the popular hotel area after security officials kicked off a new strategy in June. The security conditions in the area are primarily an issue of perception since crime in the area is below the national average. However, when tourists and citizens see a crime scene their perception of safety is shattered.
The once quiet beach resort city of Cancun and the nearby town of Playa Del Carmen have seen a spike in cartel violence that led to the U.S. Department of State issuing a travel warning in August, Breitbart Texas reported.
The city of Cancun saw 181 murders so far this year. Only 61 murders were recorded in 2016, Mexico’s Proceso reported. In 2015 the city had 37 murders and in 2014 the city recorded 21 murders. Playa Del Carmen has seen 54 murders in 2017. In 2016, that same beach resort town reported 11 murders.
Mexican federal law enforcement officials attributed the spike in narco-related murders to this year’s arrest of Leticia Rodriguez Lara, the woman known as “Doña Lety” or “La 40.” She reportedly ran a criminal organization affiliated with the Sinaloa Cartel. As Breitbart Texas reported, her organization, ran a growing network that transformed into an extremely violent cell operating in or near the lucrative tourist zones of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Doña Lety’s criminal organization was heavily involved in street-level drug sales, extortion of bars and restaurants in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, and also carried out several attacks against rival groups or civilians who did not pay the fees demanded.
Following the arrest of the female kingpin and the capture of some of her allies, violence erupted as competing groups fought over control of the lucrative beach resort area and surrounding street-level drug markets.
Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.)