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Mexico opens 2,850-man military police base north of Cancun

October 10, 2018

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president inaugurated a 2,850-member military police base just north of Cancun Tuesday amid a rising wave of violence in the Caribbean coast resort.

It is unclear whether MPs will be patrolling the beaches, as they do at some other Mexican resorts.

But it is likely the new base in Isla Mujeres won’t be considered a hardship posting. It is located onshore opposite the island, but has new living quarters for military families.

Military police have been used in other parts of Mexico, like the violence-torn northern state of Tamaulipas, to fight drug gangs whose firepower outstripped that of local police.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said Cancun and surrounding areas “should offer optimal security conditions for the millions of visitors who come here each year.”

In September, two Mexican marines were found stabbed to death in Cancun. In a single day in August, police found eight bodies strewn on the streets of Cancun.

Carlos Joaquin Gonzalez, the governor of Quintana Roo state, where Cancun and Isla Mujeres are located, said he hoped the new base would help law enforcement regain the upper hand.

“Criminals ... have taken away our peace, have broken our social fabric, weakened our institutions and broken our family values,” Joaquin Gonzalez said at the inauguration.

Before 2017 Cancun was relatively calm, but killings have increased. In the first eight months of 2018, there were 342 homicides in Cancun — about 1.4 killings a day in the city of 750,000, more than double the 148 killings in the same period of 2017.

The deaths in Mexico’s busiest resort echo the bloody violence in Acapulco that started in 2006 and eventually brought down the once-glittering Pacific resort. Like Acapulco, the killings are believed to be the work of drug and extortion gangs.

In 2017, Acapulco had a homicide rate of 103 per 100,000 inhabitants, one of the highest in Mexico and the world. By comparison Cancun had a homicide rate of about 33 per 100,000, a fraction of Acapulco’s rate but still above Mexico’s national average of about 25 per 100,000 inhabitants.

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