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!
Sister lives in Austin - love Texas. Don't have to ask me twice!
I wouldn't go to Mexico now unless I was paid an exorbitant amount of money for a short period.
Your kidding right?
Too late, they're already here.
Twenty seven percent of all federal prisoners are illegals.
Understatement of the year...
Mexico has pretty harsh gun control already.
I live in Houston in the loop, and it is becoming more lawless by the day. Add to it the Police and Mayor cannot come to terms. Fortunately I just got a contract on a house out in the ritzy burbs with excellent schools and far less pollution, bums, whores, and of course Illegal Aliens - except the ones doing jobs Americans won't do.
If it is that bad in Acapulco, it is much worse in the rest of Mexico. It will be a massive job to clean it up, and no one seems remotely interested in doing that, or for that matter, capable. Gone too far already.
No way, Jose. These incidents are the direct result of Mexico's culture of corruption. Why anyone would want to vacation in a country that hates them is beyond me. I've been to Mexico -- before the Vincente era -- and it was nothing impressive, believe me. There are much more attractive spots around the world, and even though they probably hate Americans too, they at least love our money well enough to fake it.
Ugh that would be the Mexican Government..
The drug cartels in Mexico... "IS/are"... the Mexican Government.. Duuugh..
> It's your choice as to whether or not you die in Acapulco, which is what the article is about.
Good advice. I'll write it on the post-it I keep on the bathroom mirror so I won't forget! (Currently it reminds me to check my fly before leaving.)
Yeah, I got robbed by the cops down there. Just a straight up: empty your pockets, thanks for the cash, enjoy your vacation. Very professional. We are outraged by this, but in the USA the taxman gets way more without even the personal touch!
We spent a day there a week ago, from a cruise ship. It did seem a bit dangerous and of course very poor.
Yeah, I know. That was the point. :-) It was a dig at Sarah Brady.
Acapulco used to be a great place for a vacation. It's sad to see it going to hell now.
I was gonna say..............
Acapulco sounds like L.A.
Now there's a distinction without a difference.
Yeah, me too but I wouldn't go unless I was paid an exorbitant amount for a long period.
I want all that cash in a short period of time for a short period of time spent in Mexico.
My wife wants to do a cruise to Mexico. when she asked what to do when we dock, I said we don't have to leave the boat.
The last time I went down there (about 10 years ago), to Rosarito Beach from SoCal I had the Mazda MPV filled up with wifey, three kids and a mean looking dog. Crossing the border the Federales pulled us over and asked me to empty the van. He was looking for a payoff and I wouldn't oblige, so he started to look into the van and our mutt bared her teeth and gave a little growl.
He let us go and we were never bothered again, but when we got back I had the trots, REAL BAD for about a month. I hadn't had any water, salad or anything else native so I must have picked it up from bugs or something. We've been down there many times and also to Acalpulco, Matzalan, Mexico City, etc. We are NEVER going back until it's part of the Confederacy.
We did a Norwegian cruise to Mexico last April. My husband is not a fan of Mexico but since it was with a fun bunch of couples he agreed. It was wonderful and we honestly though Acapulco was one of the nicer ports. Puerto Vallarta, which we had been to with our kids, is really seedy.
You wouldn't even want to die of natural causes in Mexico. My husbands uncle did back in the early eighties. They took his body to a fish cooler and dumped it. Then the family had to pay off the Mexican officials to get them to release it. Mordida is alive and well in Mexico! (Stay out of Mexico!)
Cabo San Lucas, more like Marbella.
A shame. A lot of history. I would want to go down and see where the Manila galleons parked and see any traces of the China trade.
A shame. But right now, I have no urge to BE history.
Lots of Texans are trading the planned vacation to Mexico for a cruise. Much better chance of getting back alive. The "Mexican tourist trade" is a brand name that has lost it's lustre.
The Princess hasn't changed since the mid-80's!! What a has-been place!! I wouldn't go back to Acapulco if you paid me, but I wish I would have bought the ram's horn and silver candlesticks I saw there!!