Skip to comments.Acapulco: You wouldn't want to die there
Posted on 02/08/2007 12:14:33 PM PST by Graybeard58
ACAPULCO, Mexico -- Brazen daylight killings by presumed drug smugglers just up the hill from Acapulco Bay are worrying business leaders that increasingly bloody drug wars will cripple Mexico's critical tourism industry.
Hotel owners and other business leaders in the Pacific coast resort have demanded officials do something to quell the violence that has been closing in on the city's beachfront hotels, flashy discos and fish taco eateries.
In one of the boldest attacks yet, assassins dressed as soldiers barged into two state police stations shortly before noon Tuesday, demanded the officers hand over their guns and then opened fire. Five police investigators and two secretaries were killed, and witnesses said the simultaneous attacks were videotaped by the assailants.
Federal authorities said Wednesday they were investigating whether some of the slain officers had ties to drug traffickers, and whether the killings were meant to settle scores between the rival Gulf and Sinaloa drug cartels.
Mayor Felix Salgado told business leaders at a breakfast meeting Wednesday that authorities were patrolling the tourist zone and will "guarantee the safety of those who visit us."
"I hope this does not affect the tourist image," he said. "We realize that these events are unpleasant, but people know that they are separate events."
One of the stations hit Tuesday was near a highway used by tourists driving into the resort. Days earlier, two Canadian tourists were grazed in the legs by bullets fired into a hotel lobby on the main tourist strip.
A city of more than 720,000, Acapulco has always had a problem with crime, but until recently the violence occurred mostly in the poor neighborhoods blanketing its verdant hills, far from the gleaming five-star hotels along the coast.
Since last April, however, the attacks have become more blatant: The smugglers have carried out at least six beheadings. Several officers' heads were spiked on a railing in front of a downtown building. Another head floated up just off the beach. A decapitated body was found in a hotel room in Pie de la Cuesta, a popular resort just north of the city line, and a municipal police officer was gunned down outside a disco in the tourist zone.
The violence has increased as the Sinaloa and Gulf cartels battle for control of lucrative routes off the Pacific coast for U.S.-bound Colombian cocaine, belying Acapulco's image as a relaxing, tropical paradise and threatening to scare away foreign tourists .
Cartels also are battling over domestic drug sales as drug consumption grows inside Mexico, where few places seem immune to violence.
Since taking office in December, President Felipe Calderon has deployed more than 24,000 soldiers and federal police nationwide to fight drug gangs, including about 7,000 sent to the Acapulco region.
Calderon calls the violence an unfortunate response to his military crackdown, which has included the extradition to the United States of Gulf kingpin Osiel Cardenas, suspected former Sinaloa leader Hector Palma Salazar and two other druglords.
The officers in Acapulco may not have been surprised by the order to turn over their weapons to men who appeared to be federal soldiers. In Tijuana last month, federal troops stripped city police officers of their guns for inspection amid allegations that some were colluding with drug smugglers.
Erit Montufar, who directs state police investigators in Guerrero, the state where Acapulco is located, said the assailants acted as if they were carrying out a similar operation Tuesday. All the assailants escaped and no arrests have been made.
Viviana Macias, the federal attorney general's spokeswoman, said her office was probing whether the slain officers had been working with smugglers.
"That's one of the leads we are following," Macias told The Associated Press. "All we know now is that it appears to be an organized crime gang that disguised themselves as soldiers."
One of the five police investigators killed had escaped an attempt on his life just last month, Macias said.
The Sinaloa and Gulf cartels have recorded killings in the past. The Mexican newspaper Milenio reported Wednesday that videotaping executions was a characteristic of Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka "Barbie," the reputed chief hit man for the Sinaloa Cartel. According to the federal Attorney General's Office, Valdez is in charge of defending Acapulco from Gulf Cartel attacks.
In 2005, a homemade DVD was sent to two U.S. newspapers, apparently showing four Gulf Cartel hit men being beaten and interrogated and one shot in the head. Police said the DVD revealed a dispute between drug gangs.
I don't even want to vacation there....
Back in the mid-eighties, I did think I'd died and gone to heaven when in Acapulco. Nothing like the Princess off-season and Teddy's on a sunny day. You couldn't pay me to go back there now.
Took the words right out of my mouth!
Frankly, I don't want to die anywhere, but it's not really my choice, is it?
Wow, none of that ever happened in that old Elvis movie "Fun In Acapulco." Actually it is a very beautiful place, but there are too many other options out there to put up with this. When I was there, the biggest annoyance was the unrelenting persistence of people trying to sell you things you didn't want, like a timeshare, a bicycle or in one case a dead swordfish.
Coming soon to a State near you.
Canada's had a rash of dead tourists in Mexico - a couple attending their dauther's wedding had their throats slashed, another chap was beaten to death for dancing with a local's girlfriend, another old couple had been shot in the legs...no travel advisories though.
As a Canuck I'd much prefer a US destination. Plenty of sun and fun to be found not far from home. And you can drink the water.
I'm more worried about the corrupt cops in Mexico than the drug gangs, who have little interest in bothering tourists.
My wife wanted to, I talked her out of it.
But you can choose to avoid Acapulco.
Hasn't some of this already come to south Texas?
What do you have to fear from corrupt Mexican cops?
It's your choice as to whether or not you die in Acapulco, which is what the article is about.
My wife and I went last year and had a great time. Although the long, fenced drive to our hotel was heavily guarded by machinegun toting guards. We got a cab and had a great tour of the city. It isn't the safest place, but what city its size is any safer for tourists? The drug war is between the cartels and the cops. The tourists are WELL protected by nearly everyone there as they are the lifeblood of that city's economy.
I spent a few days there a decade ago before my cruise. That place scared me. No desire to return. Puerto Vallarta was far preferable.
Try Pensacola, Galveston or Corpus Christi if you want the beaches.
There isn't anything I left there that I need to go back for!
What? Solving a serious violence problem is simple! Just ask Sarah Brady. All you have to do is make gun ownership illegal, and all the violence will magically vanish!
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