MEXICO CITY (AP) — Tourists have barely started trickling back into the Mexican resort of Acapulco after deadly storm damage last year, but the gangland killings on the beaches have already returned.
Late Friday, the government of the Pacific coast state of Guerrero said it was deploying 60 gun-toting detectives to patrol the beaches “in light of the violent events that have occurred recently.”
At least three people were shot dead on beaches in Acapulco last week, one by gunmen who arrived — and escaped — aboard a boat.
The storm killed 52 people and left 32 missing. It also caused severe damage to almost all Acapulco's hotels. Only a fraction of the city's hotel rooms — about 5,000 — have been repaired.
The government has pledged to build about three dozen barracks for the quasi-military National Guard in Acapulco. But even with throngs of troops now on the streets, the gang violence that has beset the resort for almost two decades appears to have continued.
In January, the main Acapulco chamber of commerce reported that gang threats and attacks caused about 90% of the city’s passenger vans to stop running, affecting the resort’s main form of transport.
Acapulco has been bloodied by turf battles between gangs since at least 2006. The gangs are fighting over drug sales and income from extorting protection payments from businesses, bars, bus and taxi drivers.
Also Friday, the government of the northern border state of Sonora issued a video-taped warning to local youths who they said were being recruited by drug cartels on social media.
The state prosecutors office said that young people in Sonora had been lured by acquaintances or social media sites with offers of jobs out of state in industries like agriculture, only to find they would be forced to work for a drug cartel.
“These youths have left their hometowns and gone to other states, where they have found out that these offers were deceptive and aimed at forcing them to work in crime gangs,” the office said in a statement.
The office added that some of the youths targeted were under 18.
Drug cartels in Mexico have resorted to force and deception in the past to recruit foot soldiers, and there is increasing evidence they use minors to fill out the ranks of gunmen.
At the same time, the expansion of the cartels into seemingly legitimate businesses in Mexico sometimes makes it hard to determine if a job offer is linked to the gangs.
For example, in 2023, eight young workers were killed in the western state of Guadalajara after they apparently tried to quit jobs at a call center operated by a violent drug cartel that targeted Americans in a real estate scam.