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Mexico’s Cartel Violence Spills Into Nearby Five-Star Resorts Where Tourists Are Drug Customers

Tourists staying at luxury hotels in Cancun and Tulum are noticing a massive uptick in cartel violence as the vacation hotspots have quickly become a key revenue source for drug sales, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

Cartels see the area of Quintana Roo, where the two resort towns are located, as a cash cow for drug sales, where their customers are easily accessible, making it easier and cheaper to traffic drugs, the WSJ reported. The homicide rate in the state has almost quadrupled since 2016 –  an increase that is attributed to drugs.

“Our basic problem is drug demand by tourists,” Quintana Roo Attorney General Oscar Montes de Oca said, according to the WSJ.

In March, tourists in Cancun’s hotel zone found human remains that police said could be casualties of cartel crime. That same month, a British citizen, who lived in the area and was warned of being a target, was shot and killed by two men on a motorcycle while driving with his teenage daughter in the passenger seat, The Daily Beast reported.

“We have to be careful what kind of tourism we ask for,” head of the Tulum Hotel Association David Ortiz Mena said, according to the WSJ. “The kind of tourism we fostered creates drug demand, and where there is demand there will be supply. But the drug dealers don’t leave when the party’s over and the tourists go home.”

The manager of a bar on the beach in Quintana Roo was shot and killed in January, The Washington Post reported. Days before the incident, two Canadians were killed at a resort a few miles away as a result of an argument between guests.

Suspected rival cartel members engaged in a shootout near Cancun in November, sending beachgoers running to nearby resorts for safety, the Associated Press reported. Two drug dealers were killed in the incident, according to the WSJ.

The State Department, nor the U.S. Embassy in Cancun responded to requests for comment.

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