Saturday’s murders of 20 men in Mexico’s famed resort city, Acapulco, are taking their toll on the country’s economy with most foreign visitors fleeing the once peaceful vacation playground. And it’s not only Americans and Canadians forgoing their Acapulco vacations, but now even Mexicans who usually frequent the resort are changing their plans.
The latest bloodbath last Saturday involved the bodies of fifteen men who were discovered outside a shopping mall, with 14 of them decapitated. Another six victims were found dead inside a cab nearby, according to a police source.
Handwritten “tags” or signs were discovered at the crime scene suggesting that the killings were part of the ongoing gang war involving the Los Zetas, La Familia and the Sinaloa cartel. The three organized crime gangs implicated in the Acapulco violence are vying for control of Mexico’s illegal drug trade.
Some of the signs posted on shopping center walls allegedly bore the signature of “El Chapo Guzman,” who is the Mexican “Godfather” of the Sinaloa cartel. He is referred to as Public Enemy Number One by Mexican law enforcement and military forces.
Just recently, the Mexican government released its latest figures on homicides connected to the drug war that began in December 2006.
At least 30,196 people have been murdered since Mexican President Felipe Calderon ordered troops to crack down on the drug cartels. Those murdered included government officials, police commanders and officers, military personnel, and others who were deemed a threat to the cartels’ business interests or leaders. Of those 30,000-plus killed, a record 12,456 were mortally wounded between January and November of 2010.
The struggling Mexican economy has long relied on tourism to garner a major portion of that country’s wealth. Acapulco, dubbed by Mexico’s bureau of tourism as the “Pearl of the Pacific,” has experienced a 50 percent reduction in visitors within the past year, claim law enforcement officials.
Some tourists still visit the city, especially from Mexico City, but travel agents say they expect the number of Mexican visitors to fall as the violence increases. Even those brave enough to vacation in Acapulco stay close to the hotels and avoid venturing out on their own.
Saturday’s Acapulco killings come only a few weeks following the shocking discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 18 people from the nearby Michoacan state.
The victims are believed to have been touring Acapulco by bus while on vacation when they were kidnapped by cartel members and murdered in cold-blood, according to a law enforcement advisor who has worked as a police instructor in Mexico.