Tuesday, December 18, 2018


How American tourists risk gang shootings, illicit alcohol and even death while vacationing in increasingly drug and violence-plagued Mexico

By Marlene Lenthang

Daily Mail
December 16, 2018

It's a tale that's tragically unfolded far too many times - a foreigner's dream vacation to Mexico ending up in senseless death.

Violent crime and murder is rampant in parts of Mexico, especially in Acapulco - a popular beach resort stop that's also known as the nation's murder capital.

In 2017 alone there were a staggering 953 homicides in Acapulco, a jump from 918 in 2016. The violence was so dangerous the U.S. State Department warned Americans to stay away.

The state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, and other Mexican states have Level 4 'Do Not Travel' advisory warnings, the same as Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, according to the New York Post.

Yet, the tourists keep on coming.

Last year there were more than 35million visitors to Mexico.

In October 2018 Mexico saw 688,000 visitors from the U.S., a seven per cent increase from the year prior.

At the same time, the gut-wrenching stories of American tourists being viciously killed or targeted have surged.

In July Tatiana Mirutenko, a 27-year-old from Chicago, was killed by a stray bullet fired by two men on a speeding motorcycle as she was emerging from a bar in an upscale part of the city after a night of dancing.

She was visiting to celebrate her one year wedding anniversary with her husband.

She had been vacationing in Mexico since she was a little girl. She never thought she would be one of the 16,339 homicides recorded in the country in the first seven months of this year, according to statistics by Mexican law enforcement.

'She loved the culture, loved the people,' her heartbroken father Wasyl Mirutenko said to the Post.

When asked if her killers were caught he choked on tears and said: 'I don't really care. Whatever happens, it will not bring her back.'

In Acapulco two men were shot by a barrage of gunfire in October as they were on the beach. Police took the corpses away as tourists returned to the beach just minutes later.

The U.S. State Department warns that 'armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence toward travelers.'

In April tourists at Celtilla Beach stumbled upon the bullet-riddled body of a fisherman that washed ashore. Cops said he was likely killed in a dispute over drugs.

In January 2017 five people were shot dead at an electronic music festival at the Blue Parrot nightclub in Playa del Carmen. Two were Canadian, one Italian, one Colombian, and one American 18-year-old Alejandra Villanueva Ibarra from Denver.

Black market tequila and liquor have also led to senseless death.

Wisconsin girl Abbey Conner, 20, died by drowning in a shallow pool at the Hotel Iberostar Paraiso del Mar in Playa del Carmen in November 2017 after drinking bootleg tequila shots at the upscale resort.

She was drinking with her brother Austin and they both blacked out. Austin woke up in the hospital with a bump on his forehead and no memory of the night.

Patricia Protage said her 19-year-old son stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Cancún for spring break and after drinking the sketchy alcohol at a bar there he blacked out and woke up on the floor of a filthy jail cell.

'He can't remember anything that happened after he took his first sip of his second beer,' she said to the Post.

'This is a kid who has never done drugs, and only ever drank a couple of beers,' she added.

'It was terrifying and it’s happening all the time with kids who go to Mexico for spring break... He never wants to go back there. We’re the #NeverInMexico family. We travel quite extensively, but none of us will ever be going back there,' she said.

Since these incidents Mexican authorities have shut down two distilleries producing illicit alcohol and tequila with dangerous levels of methanol.

A 41-year-old mother from Queens, New York said she was nearly made into a drug mule for a Mexican cartel when she found someone placed two bags of white powder in her backpack while she stayed at a high-end, all-inclusive resort in Cancún.

'It was scary, I was with my kids and I locked myself in the apartment. I was worried that a drug trafficker was going to barge in with guns to get the drugs,' she said to the Post.

She said she was too skeptical of Mexican police to report the bags, saying 'because there's a lot of criminal activity in Mexico, and if you don't know who you are dealing with you can find yourself in even more trouble. You can't trust the police in Mexico.'
After calling her husband and the security firm she works for in the U.S. she left the backpack in the Airbnb and checked out. A few days later her husband went to the Airbnb and said the backpack was no longer there.

'To this day, I don't know what happened. I was either used as a decoy for something or it was a test run for a drug delivery,' she said to the Post.

As a result of the horror stories, Mexican tourism says they're working with local law enforcement to bolster police presence during peak tourist seasons in Acapulco and Cacún.

'American tourists should know that recent incidents of violence have had almost zero impact on tourists or tourist area,' Dario Flota Ocampo, CEO of the tourism board in Quintana Roo (where Cancun is located), said to the Post.

'Tens of millions of Americans have visited Quintana Roo over the past 10 years and the vast majority of them are not involved in any sort of incidents . . . They have a great time and come back over and over again,' he added.

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