Monday, July 15, 2013

Cancún and Quintana Roo are not under a U.S. advisory, but maybe they should be

"This happened to me for being an extortionist in the service of ---; I'm waiting for them now in hell."

Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Last week the U.S. State Dept. issued updated travel advisories for Mexico. Neither this gateway to the Riviera Maya, nor Mexico's most southeastern state of which it is the largest city, were on the list. But drug war violence continues here unabated.

The omission of the Caribbean coast is interesting. Americans are almost never the victims of drug war violence in Mexico. The last and most prominent case involved two U.S. ICE agents who were attacked on a highway in broad daylight in San Luis Potosí in February 2011. One died on the scene, and the other was gravely wounded. Los Zetas gunman pleads guilty. Nonetheless, the State Dept.'s July 12 travel warning listed dozens of areas where drug cartel rivalries and assaults against locals are regular events, advising Americans to stay out of them entirely, or only to enter with great caution. But not a word was posted about violent Quintana Roo state, where the same occurs almost daily. One can only speculate why.

It may seem curious to those who do not closely monitor Mexico's 80 month old drug war, but many taxi drivers - most of them operating in Cancún - are front line soldiers in the conflict here. Even the state's chief executive admitted so in March. Quintana Roo governor: Cancún taxi drivers are on cartel payrolls. Of course, those same drivers carry hundreds of thousands of foreign and domestic visitors annually.

Taxi drivers do it all. They operate as mobile drug dispensaries, offering marijuana, cocaine and other products to tourists and locals alike. They transport cartel capos about town, on the theory that it's much safer for a narco to move around like an ordinary fare rather than in his own vehicle, where he might be spotted and cornered for quick dispatching on the street. They pick up the weekly rent from the hundreds of local businesses which must pay it, if they want to stay open and stay alive. Above all, cabbies are halcones - hawks, if you will, observing everything, making mental notes, monitoring the movements of police, troops and opposing organizations. If a Request for Bids is put on the table, many will be happy to offer their skills. Cancún Los Pelones deliver drugs by taxi, death on demand.

The driver in the top photo met his end early Saturday morning. He worked for the Gulf Cartel, police said, and had been arrested in Cancún as recently as Mar. 19 for "loaning taxis" to that organization so they could be used for criminal purposes. The narcomanta left by his side - a warning to others - is SOP in Mexico's drug war. The man's Gulf confederates named in the note (written with rather fuddled grammar) are now on notice that they soon may be joining their deceased friend in a yet warmer spot.

The skull and crossbones message was signed by "The Anthrax Group," whom authorities say are sicarios - paid executioners - for the Sinaloa Cartel of El Chapo Guzmán. A local boss of the cartel was arrested in Mérida last September.

In the meantime, the question is why has the U.S. State Dept. told American citizens nothing about the reality of daily life along the balmy Riviera Maya, Mexico's Caribbean Gold Coast?

Apr. 14 - Eight found executed in Cancún; taxi drivers suspected
Mar. 22 - Cancún under first "Red Alert" in its history
Mar. 19 - Q.R. prosecutor confirms: Gulf Cartel likely behind three recent Riviera Maya atrocities
Feb. 1 - Yucatán safety continues to be subject of hot debate
Dec. 28 - Two cartels unite to declare war on Los Zetas in Cancún, foreshadowing a "bloodbath"

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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