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As the rampant violence in Mexico rages on, locals and tourists alike seem to be getting desensitized to some of the grisly scenes playing out across the nation.
At least, that seems to be the case in one recent double homicide near a beach in Acapulco. On Thursday, two men were murdered in the tourist hotspot of Acapulco’s Caletilla Beach. The men were reportedly chased by a car into a crowd of tourists and gunned down, causing some initial panic on the beach, according to news.com.au.
Video from local Mexican news outlet, El Sol de Acapulco, shows a bizarre scene unfolding minutes after the murders: Tourists and beachgoers relaxing and dining under beach umbrellas as the two bodies sit mere feet away. The crime scene is closed off from the beach by police tape.
This latest dual murder comes as a string of recent gruesome incidents have encroached upon the relatively safer tourist and resort districts of Mexico. The country’s overall homicide rate was up 16% for the first half of 2018, the Guardian reports. Mexico had a total of 15,937 murders in the first half of this year — the highest rate ever since numbers began being recorded in 1997.
That rate is about 22 homicides per 100,000 citizens — a number approaching countries like Brazil and Colombia, which both have a murder rate of 27 per 100,000, according to the Guardian.
Acapulco in particular has seen a litany of beachfront violence like Thursday’s double homicide. A similar murder occurred on Caletilla Beach in April, with the murdered man’s body washing ashore as tourists and locals tried to enjoy the sun and surf.
Acapulco, once a glamorous tourist destination, is located in the Mexican state of Guerrero. The US State Department ranks Guerrero state as a warning level four “do not travel” due to its crime rate. In Guerrero, the State Department says violent gang activity is widespread, as are gun battles, “armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault.”
Similarly, Cancun — extremely popular with tourists — saw 14 murders in just 36 hours in April. That was the city’s most violent window of time since 2004, the New York Post reports. And in August, the US State Department issued a travel warning for US citizens traveling to Mexico after eight dead bodies were found in Cancun in the span of a few days.
That travel alert, which is still in effect, is a level two warning and states visitors should “exercise increased caution due to crime.”
“Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking and robbery, is widespread,” the State Department warning says. “The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in many areas of Mexico as US government employees are prohibited from travel to these areas.” While officials say most of the crimes appear to assassinations and turf battles between criminal organizations, killings or injuries of bystanders have also occurred, the State Department notes.
For tourists who are traveling to Mexico, the State Department recommends travelers use toll roads when possible and avoid driving at night. Visitors should also avoid displaying signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry and be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
US citizens can also enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive alerts from the State Department. The program also makes it easier for officials to locate you in an emergency.
Featured image of a March murder on Caletilla Beach by FRANCISCO ROBLES/AFP/Getty Images.
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