Friday, July 20, 2012

Machine gun fire in upscale Cancún mall terrifies hotel zone shoppers

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Kukulcán Plaza in Cancún's internationally famous hotel zone bills itself as the city's "most exclusive shopping mall."

It may also be the only one where where a heavily armed commando team of 15 bandits used machine guns rather than credit cards to complete their transactions yesterday.

One of the prime tenants of the mall is Luxury Avenue, a high end department store which has but two locations in Mexico - Cancún and Cabo San Lucas in Baja Claifornia, a premier tourist destination. Shoppers at either location had better have cash in hand or plenty of credit available before selecting merchandise.

Yesterday about 8:30 p.m., the team brazenly walked into the store to carry out a strong arm robbery. To get everyone's attention, one of the members let loose with a burst of automatic weapon fire (in Mexico, that almost always means either an AK-47 or an AR-15). Employees and a few customers were herded into a store room while the bandits used hammers to break into show cases. They threatened to "shoot anyone who moved." Authorities have not said how much the store lost, but most of the stolen merchandise was jewelry and high end watches, including Cartier items.

The local press reports that no one was injured in the attack, although several had to be treated for "nervous crisis." That's a quaint Spanish way of saying they were terrified.

Several suspects were detained soon after in different parts of town, including a man who was arrested outside the ADO bus terminal. That station is well known to anyone who has traveled to Mérida via Cancún, a common point of ingress for tourists headed to Yucatán.

Police said the group behind the Kukulkán Plaza robbery is from Veracruz. Two years ago, in September 2010, another group of bandits with Veracruz connections staged a similar operation at a jewelry store in one of Mérida's premier malls, Plaza Altabrisa. No firearms were used in that attack, but the hammer-wielding robbers made off with about $100,000 USD in merchandise. All were later arrested and convicted. Police believe the same group may be behind both robberies.

July 28 - The robbery was estimated at 35-40 million pesos ($2.7-$3.1 million USD), but some of the merchandise seems to have disappeared while in police custody (Asalto joyería: todos sospechosos; ¿Dónde quedaron los relojes?).
July 27 - Finding sufficient evidence, a judge ordered all of the suspects to stand trial.
July 26 - Several high end jewelry retailers in Valladolid, an historic town about half way between Cancún and Mérida, were allegedly next on the bandits' target list.

Follow-up stories in Q.R. press July 20-22:
Tentáculos criminales (Robbers facing five to 40 years).
La vida sigue en la avenida del lujo (Normal operations resumed at Luxury Avenue the day after the robbery, although the jewelry boutique remains closed).
Joyero del DF comandaba banda de asaltantes detenida en Cancún (The robbery was staged by a group of 15-25 bandits which operates nation-wide, primarily targeting jewelry stores. The boss of the gang himself is a jeweler from Mexico City).
Van siete detenidos por el asalto a joyería (Seven suspects have been arrested).

April 5 - Los Zetas executioner arrested near Hotel Oasis Cancún.
March 27 - Execution in Cancún hotel zone

"Don't leave home without it."


  1. Apparently, there were 25 in the band and 8 have been caught. They stayed at the exculsive, Plaza Caribe, directly across from the ADO Room 105, to be exact.

  2. The Plaza Caribe . . . hmmm . . . maybe I'll drive over there tomorrow and try to meet up with the other 16. I'd like to discuss their operational tactics over a few Dos XX.

  3. Proceso says it was a jewler from DF who was behind the robo. And, two chicks made off with most of the goods. This seems to have been a nation wide network of robbers who passed the joyas to the leader's shop in el centro del DF where it was sold at retail. Not a bad business plan until it isn't. The long and the short of it is buyer beware, literally.

  4. It's never too early to think about holiday shopping. There may be some good deals to be had on a lady's Cartier over in D.F. It's always nice to surprise mom on Christmas morning.

  5. Wow. Now that's a movie-like incident. Of course, happening inside the exclusive mall, there must be an inside job too. Way too scary and alarming.