Cancún Cartel War Kills 525 in 2018

Cancun Beach Security -- Getty Images
File Photo: Getty Images

Formerly peaceful Cancún continues to experience shocking levels of cartel violence. At least eight individuals were murdered over the past weekend.

The number of homicides registered in Cancún officially reached at least 525 in 2018, smashing the previous all-time record set in 2017 at 227, according to statistics obtained from the state attorney general’s office.

During the recent 48-hour period, at least five were murdered from Friday night to Saturday night with an additional three early Sunday morning, according to local reporting and law enforcement sources. One death was registered in the parking lot of the Costco store located on Kabah Avenue near a popular expat community—now home to many Americans. Initial reports indicate that an unidentified male was loading his car with groceries on Friday at approximately 8:10 pm when he was attacked by several gunmen waiting for him. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple wounds.

On Sunday, a body wrapped in garbage bags was discovered at approximately 7:20 am in colonia 28 behind a convenience store, according to local reports. The unknown male had a piece of cable wrapped around his neck and limbs, displaying signs of torture.

Roughly one hour later, a local prison guard was mortally wounded by two gunmen on a motorcycle as he was driving home from work, according to reports. The victim died after being transported to a hospital. The gunmen were later arrested after a police chase.

Last week, an exchange of gunfire in the Hotel Tourist Zone resulted in three individuals wounded and one dead. Those involved in the confrontation were later determined to be taxi drivers working in the street level drug distribution, according to the Secretary of Public Security Alberto Capello. Cartels commonly use taxi drivers to as lookouts and dealers.

Breitbart News reported extensively on the worsening cartel violence in Cancun.

Local Homicide Cases Per Year

2018 — 525+ (as of December 16)

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


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