When tourists in Mexico try to obtain cocaine, It’s a common enough request across the Mayan Riviera that employees of the Hyatt Ziva knew how to accommodate their clientele. They called a local drug dealers, but the dealers who arrived at the beachside resort near Cancún last month came from rival cartels. Within minutes, shooting began. Security footage shows the attackers sprinting from the beach toward the $400-a-night hotel, and tourists in bathing suits seeking cover in hallways, reports the Washington Post. “It was more proof that the only reason the cartels are here is because of the enormous demand for drugs, especially among tourists,” said Lucio Hernández Gutiérrez, security chief for Mexico’s Quintana Roo state. “It’s a very difficult thing to stop.” The hotel denies that its staff should be blamed for the attack.
Famous destinations along Mexico’s Caribbean coast have seen alarming displays of violence. Many say the incidents illustrate Mexico’s lawlessness. Mexican officials say that fails to account for the way tourists’ increasing demand for drugs has emboldened the cartels that sell to them. In Tulum, a German and Indian tourist were killed by gunmen in October. In November, the shootout at the Hyatt spared tourists, but left two apparent cartel members dead. This month, gunmen arrived at a well-known Cancún beach on water scooters in another apparent targeted killing attempt. They fired their weapons before taking off into the Caribbean. No one was wounded. In response to the incidents, Mexico this month launched a “Tourist Security Battalion,” sending more than a thousand soldiers and police to patrol its most visited beaches and popular nightclubs and bars. Mexican authorities have explored ways to diminish demand for drugs among tourists without arresting them or discouraging them from visiting — a delicate balance.