The four, all of Mexican nationality, “were executed on the spot,” according to a person close to the investigation. The Coordination Group for the Construction of Peace and Security in Quintana Roo, a coalition of military and law enforcement, said in a statement Tuesday that the victims are believed to be selling and distributing drugs.
Is it safe to travel in Mexico?
The person close to the investigation said five suspects are in custody, including two who were caught on security cameras carrying out executions. The killings were part of an internal drug trafficking dispute between members of the Sinaloa cartel, the person said. Following the murders, state prosecutors offered a reward of 1 million pesos (about 55,000 dollars) for the location of Héctor Elías Flores Aceves, a leader known as “El 15”.
The coordination group said that while the deaths occurred in the hotel zone, the incident did not pose a risk to visitors, hotel employees or businesses because it took place in brush.
Cartel RX: From Mexican labs to US streets, a deadly drug pipeline
Monday’s ordeal during the busy run-up to Easter was the latest blow to Mexico’s tourist reputation. Last week, an American tourist was shot in the leg in Puerto Morelos, south of Cancun, Associated Press reported.
A dramatic scene unfolded in Cancun in late 2021 as tourists fled the beach for safety amid a shootout that state officials say was between rival cartels. Two people affiliated with the gangs were killed, state officials said, and a hotel guest was injured.
The Embassy and Consulates of the United States in Mexico issued a spring recess travel alert in mid-March warning travelers to avoid drugs and unregulated alcohol and to be alert to criminal activity.
“Crime, including violent crime, can occur anywhere in Mexico, including in popular tourist destinations,” the alert says. “Travellers should maintain a high level of situational awareness, avoid areas where illegal activities occur, and move quickly away from potentially dangerous situations.”
But the State Department does not warn against travel to Quintana Roo, just telling tourists to “use extra caution.”
Law enforcement authorities in the state said operations are still taking place at beaches, nightclubs and other tourist spots to ensure safety in the week leading up to Easter.
The Cancun, Puerto Morelos and Isla Mujeres Hotel Association praised the response to the killings in a statement.
“While our top priority is the safety of our visitors, workers, and all Mexican citizens, during this unfortunate incident, their safety was never at risk,” the association said. “Together with our local and national government officials, we can ensure our guests’ physical well-being and continued vacation enjoyment.”