Cancun, Mexico, Jun 25 (EFE).- Additional units of Mexico’s National Guard began deploying in this Caribbean resort city Sunday to bolster security ahead of the peak summer tourism season amid the threat of violence associated with the drug trade.
Those concerns were highlighted when four people were gunned down in Cancun’s hotel district during Easter week.
During a walk on one of the city’s most popular beaches, Gaviota Azul, National Guard Sgt. Octavio del Angel Madrigal tells EFE that roughly 19 months of the start of the operation, authorities have reduced the incidence of drug dealing.
“We don’t detect many people who dedicate themselves to selling drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, crack,” he says.
He adds that besides cracking down on drug dealers in the tourist zones, the National Guard is working to discourage excessive alcohol consumption among beachgoers.
Intoxicated tourists, both Mexicans and foreigners, have drowned in the waters off Cancun, Madrigal says.
The National Guard presence includes search-and-rescue dogs and Pvt. Uriel Bamaca Ordoñez, handling Tenue, told EFE that the presence of the canines deters drug dealers.
“It’s an impact, I think, for the people doing illicit things because I think that everyone knows that the dogs have very acute sense of smell,” he said.
Mexico City resident Maria Smith said that she and her family have enjoyed a “very safe” vacation in Cancun.
“As tourist I have felt very safe, very happy. The place is very beautiful. I haven’t seen incidents, fights, people selling drugs,” she said.
Enrique Rosales Zamora, who hails from the central Mexican state of Tlaxcala, is in Cancun with his wife and their two young daughters.
“I feel very safe, they are lighting the place, it gives me confidence to go walking,” he says.
The tourism office in Quintana Roo state, which includes Cancun, estimates that more than 7 million people visited the area in the first four months of 2023.
Following the shutdown forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the cruise industry is rebounding strongly, with the number of passengers visiting Cozumel and Mahahual rising from 1.6 million during all of 2022 to 2.5 million in the first quarter of this year.