Mexico Surges Forces to Secure Cancún, Playa del Carmen Hotel Zones

cancun cops

At least 300 police agents and elements of the military were deployed to the once peaceful tourist beaches of Cancún, Playa del Carmen, and Rivera Maya to provide security against escalating cartel violence now impacting hotel zones.

The strategy, known as “Operación Neptuno” or “Operation Neptune,” according to local media will include police from state, municipal, tourist, and federal agencies plus elements of the Mexican Army and Navy.

The deployments will be made for the purpose of providing additional high-visibility foot and vehicle patrols to the hotel zones and popular tourist destinations affecting beach hubs located in Quintana Roo—a state once immune to cartel violence. According to the operational plan, the Mexican Navy, in coordination with the office of the local harbormaster, will maintain surveillance and control of the different vessels in the area.

Breitbart Texas reported extensively on the cartel violence affecting Cancún and Playa del Carmen. In February, a narco-terror explosion ripped through a passenger ferry in Playa del Carmen. The Barcos Caribe, running a Playa del Carmen-Cozumel route since 2015, experienced a violent blast as passengers were disembarking and injured seven Americans.

In March, the U.S. Department of State issued an order prohibiting federal employees from traveling to Playa del Carmen and the U.S. Consular Offices were closed due to a credible threat of cartel violence. The order was later lifted.

On April 22, Breitbart Texas reported on an attack in which two cartel gunmen on jet skis opened fire on a mobile food vendor working a crowded beach behind Hotel Riu.

The ongoing violence is attributed by government officials to the cartel wars over the disputed lucrative drug markets by Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación, Los Zetas, Gulf, and independent groups loyal to the Sinaloa Cartel. Breitbart Texas previously reported that 60 Cancun municipal police were fired for extorting bribes from tourists and engaging in other criminal activities.

Cancun Homicide Cases per Year

2018 — 185 as of May 17 (28 in May)

2017 — 227

2016 — 61

2015 — 37

2014 — 21

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.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at