Sunday, September 30, 2012

Two executed in Cancún hotel zone

"Red alert in tourist district," says local newspaper

*Updates below*
Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Two bodies were discovered here about 7:00 a.m. today, police say, the latest casualties in an ongoing drug cartel feud in Q.R. state.

The unidentified male victims were found near the entrance of a theme park known as Wet 'n Wild. Their throats had been cut.

A narcomensaje, or executioner's warning, was left nearby, signed by the Gulf Cartel.

A local Spanish language news source said that "this is the first time in almost 10 years that drug cartels have 'adjusted accounts' in one of the city's most protected zones." The term means retaliatory killings committed by one cartel against another.

Oct. 1 - The most interesting aspect of this case, as the Q.R. press is noting this morning, is that the Gulf Cartel has not been regarded as a player or a presence along Mexico's Riviera Maya. Narcotics trafficking here, as well as many satellite industries, are the domain of four groups on which MGRR has frequently reported: Los Zetas, Los Pelones, Los Matazetas and more recently, the Sinaloa Cartel of El Chapo Guzmán (Sept. 21 - Routine traffic stop in Mérida yields "Boss of the Plaza" in Cozumel, Playa del Carmen - Sinaloa operative). But the Gulf Cartel has not been involved - until now.

It's possible the narcomensaje was intended to mislead. An unconfirmed press report claimed that each victim had the letter Z carved in his abdomen, suggesting that another group quite familiar with bloody executions might have been responsible for these murders.

The bodies of the men, both of whom had been almost decapitated, were abandoned along Cancún's prominent Kukulcán boulevard. They had been bound hand and foot, and their eyes were sealed with industrial tape. Investigators have not determined whether they were killed at the scene or elsewhere.

A police officer told a reporter, "things are going to get worse," noting that organized crime has never invaded the tourist district in such a blatant manner. But the officer's statements are not accurate, as the stories below demonstrate. Cancún has not been spared drug war violence in 2011-12, even in the plush zona hotelera, where tourism promoters continue to insist all is well and security is no issue.

The peninsular newspaper Por Esto!, which is generally a reliable chronicler of Quintana Roo crime, reported today that Cancún has recorded 34 organized crime executions in 2012. "Authorities fear that a war for control of the plaza is about to be unleashed between Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel," the paper said, noting that the former group once worked for the latter as its enforcement arm. Por Esto!, quoting police, suggested that the victims were most likely Zetas.

The paper laid heavy responsibility on the Cancún Tourist Police, claiming that much of the tourist district is neither well patrolled nor subjected to electronic vigilance, and that many local cops are bought off by criminals. "It's the first time that execution victims have been tossed out in the hotel zone, and the sign left by the bodies warns of a coming bloody battle between Los Zetas and the Gulf Cartel," said Por Esto! today. But the paper also acknowledged the possible involvement of Los Pelones or Los Matazetas - the dreaded "Zeta killers." All the groups have a major presence in Q.R.

Oct. 2 - Quintana Roo authorities released a number of additional details about the case today, the most important of which are the following:
1. The execution victims were brothers from deadly Nuevo Leon in the state of Tamaulipas. They ran a Cancún limousine business. Both tested positive for drugs, cocaine and marijuana. (MGRR's thought: perhaps they were independent, unaffiliated drug dealers, known as chapulines - a perfect sideline trade to complement their limo service. Independents frequently receive death sentences, which are carried out swiftly and brutally.)
2. The men were killed somewhere else, and their bodies were then dumped on Kukulcán.
3. Investigators have not completely discounted the possibility that the murders were the work of the Gulf Cartel, but they are far from convinced. A working hypothesis is that the main purpose was to further fuel the fires of the raging regional drug war, which involves multiple players: Los Zetas, Los Pelones, Los Matazetas and the Sinaloa Cartel. Prosecutors even suggested that Familia Michocana or Los Caballeros Templarios - organizations which have never been identified along the Riviera Maya - could have been responsible. The strategic use of narcomensajes to mislead criminal investigators is common in Mexico's drug war, and Quintana Roo authorities have that in mind as they follow leads.

Oct. 4 - The city of Cancún records an apparent 35th organized crime execution this year: Acribillado a quemarropa. "Violent dispute for Quintana Roo," says this morning's Por Esto! banner.

Mar. 19, 2013 - Expanding Gulf Cartel likely behind three recent Riviera Maya atrocities
Dec. 30, 2013 - Mexican army captures Cancún hotel zone executioner

Nov. 12, 2011 - U.S. intensely focused on Yucatán security in 2008-2009, diplomatic cables reveal

Sept. 29 - Los Zetas are "dominant force" in Central America and have foothold in Belize, says U.N.
Sept. 27 - Cancún International Airport was used as key narcotics distribution hub by Beltrán-Leyva
July 20 - Machine gun fire in upscale Cancún mall terrifies hotel zone shoppers
May 17 - Cancún Zetas extort even street vendors, and run sex trade, too - with INM help
May 2 - Cancún, no longer an oasis for most
May 1 - Brutal execution at Grand Oasis Cancún
April 29 - Los Pelones killer arrested in Cancún also may have been hit man for Los Matazetas
April 18 - 50 Matazeta executioners in Cancún to "recover the plaza" for El Chapo Guzmán
April 17 - Los Matazetas - the "Zeta killers" - may have arrived in Cancún, authorities fear
April 5 - Los Zetas executioner arrested near Hotel Oasis Cancún; hit team members captured
April 3 - Bodies of three narco execution victims dumped near Cancún-Mérida highway
March 27 - Execution in Cancún hotel zone
Dec. 31, 2011 - Hit man with Mérida connection arrested in Cancún; admits to 30 executions

Heavily armed police and miltares are daily sights on many Mexican streets, especially in tourist centers like Cancún. But determined cartel executioners are not deterred.

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