WARNING: Graphic content
It’s a stunning resort town once frequented by the rich and famous, but these days it’s become the scene of unimaginable horror time and time again.
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The latest incident saw two men murdered on Caleta Beach in Mexico’s Acapulco region, but such scenes of bloodshed are becoming so mundane here that tourists barely batted an eyelid.
Sure, some beachgoers initially ran for their lives when the gunshots rang out, but it wasn’t long before they went on with their leisure activities. Some were even filmed dining at a beachside restaurant while the bodies lay just metres away, with the bizarre scenes caught on camera by local site El Sol de Acapulco.
The footage shows the crime scene being cordoned off by investigators, with tourists seen relaxing in the background.
The identities of the victims have not been revealed, but it’s believed they had been chased from a vehicle and ran into the crowd of tourists.
The horror incident comes as the skeletal remains of six men were found in a house, also in Acapulco, in the Mexican state of Guerrero.
Acapulco: Violence plagues the Mexican seaside resort. Photo / John Moore, Getty Images
The local government said some of the bodies were found with their hands and feet bound, one with a piece of wire tied around their neck.
Morgues in Guerrero and several other states in Mexico have been overwhelmed by the number of bodies found on streets and in clandestine graves. Many are never identified.
Violence is also skyrocketing in the north-central state of Guanajuato, where the state prosecutor’s office reported that a pile of hacked-up limbs and body parts were found on a street in the city of Salamanca.
And in April, tourists watched as a man’s body washed ashore at Acapulco’s Caletilla Beach. Horrifying images showed stunned beachgoers standing near the water as officials removed the corpse.
During the same month, 16 people — including six police officers — were killed in two confrontations also in Guerrero, during a bloody gunbattle which lasted half an hour.
It was just the latest in a string of violence and gruesome murders in the country. In Cancun last week there were 14 killings reported in a period of just 36 hours — the highest in the country’s recorded history, according to Mexico news outlet Noticaribe.
However, tourists continue to flock to the hugely popular country despite these horror stories.
Mexico ranked as the sixth most visited nation on the planet in 2017, with a whopping 39 million international tourists.
Notorious Acapulco, once an iconic destination for a beachside holiday, a glamorous combination of sun, sand and surf immortalised in film and song, has become “hell on Earth”. But that’s not keeping the tourists away.
“Tourists are certainly coming back, but it will never be the way it was,” taxi driver Miguel told the UK’s Telegraph. “You shouldn’t feel unsafe here. People believe everything they read in the newspapers, but for ‘normal’ people it’s not as crazy as that.”
Guerrero has been experiencing a record tourist season. The state reported more than 1.3 million visitors, Fox News reports, and during the summer of 2017 alone, Acapulco welcomed 690,000 tourists — a 7 per cent increase compared to the year before.
Daylight: Caletilla beach has had number of incidents in broad daylight, including a murder in April. Photo / Twitter.com, @theacapulcotimes
Officials are desperately trying to make the area safer, including deploying 1740 police officers, 250 police vehicles, two helicopters and even drones to monitor the area’s main beaches, Travel Agent Central reports.
Stay safe in Mexico
Travel advisories from New Zealand and the US state that visitors should exercise a “high degree of caution” when in Mexico — the second lowest of four travel advice levels.
New Zealand’s safetrave.gov.nz advises travellers to “avoid non-essential travel to the states of Chihuahua, Durango, Guerrero (except for the cities of Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo and Taxco and the toll road to Taxco), Michoacán (except for the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas), Sinaloa, Sonora and Tamaulipas due to the high levels of violent crime in these regions.”
“Violent crime, including kidnapping, armed robbery and sexual assault is common in Mexico, including in tourist areas,” warns the Ministry.
This is MFAT’s main advice for New Zealanders considering visiting Mexico:
• Pay close attention to your personal security at all times
• Avoid travelling at night outside of major cities, including on major highways
• Avoid changing money at the airport if possible, or change only small amounts to avoid attracting attention
• Use only official taxis from airports. Pre-pay your fare at one of the official taxi company booths located in the arrivals hall at airport terminals
• Use only radio-dispatched taxis or taxis based at designated stands (sitios), especially in Mexico City
• Use only first-class buses
• Using toll (cuota) roads may reduce the risk of crime when driving
• Don’t leave your drinks or food unattended, especially in bars or nightclubs
• Don’t accept food, drinks, gum or cigarettes from new acquaintances
• Monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Avoid trouble spots.
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