Mexico will deploy national guard troops to a popular tourist area near Cancun following a series of shootings, including one earlier this month that sent beachgoers running for their lives into nearby hotels.
Speaking Wednesday, Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said 1,445 guard members will be sent to Quintana Roo state’s Caribbean coast to reinforce the region’s security. Plans include the establishment of a base in Tulum, where two tourists were killed during an Oct. 20 shootout between drug dealers.
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Three other tourists were injured in that shooting. The additional security efforts will begin on Dec. 1.
The most recent incident occurred Nov. 4, when a squad of armed men killed two suspected drug dealers on a beach in Puerto Morelos, south of Cancun, in broad daylight.
Officials in Quintana Roo said authorities detected 12 gangs running street-level drug deals in Tulum and Puerto Morelos.
“That can’t happen again,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said. “We have to avoid that happening. That’s why there’s this plan to reinforce security.”
Mexico has struggled to address the ongoing bloodshed as drug cartels continue to wage turf battles. López Obrador has criticized the pursuit of drug kingpins as a flawed strategy and has relied heavily on the military.
The shootings led to questions about whether Americans should reconsider travel to Mexico’s tourist areas, which were considered a safe haven for travelers looking to avoid more dangerous parts of the country.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.