Tourists in Cancun for spring break can now rest a little easier — and enjoy their vacation more.
As part of an effort to protect tourists and make the area safer in general, the Mexican state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula, which is known for popular destinations including Cancun, Cozumel, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, has deployed military personnel in Cancun.
Those uniformed soldiers, along with uniformed police officers, are now patrolling Cancun’s so-called Hotel Zone as part of the city’s Safe Beach Program and the Red Circle operation in an effort to deter crime, according to Riviera Maya News. The Red Circle operation gets its name because the military and police presence encircles the Hotel Zone, which is known for its hotels, nightclubs, bars, and shopping.
Uniformed personnel were readily seen patrolling the area last Saturday night when thousands of people were frequenting the more popular clubs, according to Riviera Maya News. Those patrols continued until Sunday when the streets emptied.
Not surprisingly, no criminal activity was reported during their patrols, according to Riviera Maya News.
The Military Operation
Last weekend, it was announced that 18,000 military members were set to be deployed in different areas of Mexico. Of that number, 1,200 troops were set to be stationed in Cancun, according to The Cancun Sun. The rest of the troops are expected to be stationed in Playa del Carmen and Tulum for similar operations.
It’s estimated that 300 of those troops actively patrolled Cancun’s Hotel Zone last weekend.
The military and police presence is expected to continue in the coming weeks as the spring break period continues, along with Easter weekend, which is also a popular time for tourists to visit the area, according to The Cancun Sun.
This isn’t the first time a military presence has been needed in Cancun.
For example, the Mexican government announced last November it would send nearly 1,500 National Guard troops to Cancun to increase the area’s security in December. That deployment was in direct response to increasing drug-related gang violence that killed tourists and — potentially — decreased the region’s popularity as a tourism destination.
In particular, two tourists were killed and three were wounded last October in the Mexican Caribbean resort town of Tulum when rival drug-dealing gangs exchanged gunfire. Then, in November, gunfire exchanged by rival drug-dealing gangs on a beach in Puerto Morelos — south of Cancun — left two alleged drug dealers dead and sent tourists scrambling for cover.
Know Before You Go
If you are planning a trip anywhere in Quintana Roo, keep in mind that the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico has issued a security alert for the area. U.S. citizens should “Exercise increased caution due to crime,” the alert explains.
“Criminal activity and violence may occur in any location, at any time, including in popular tourist destinations,” according to the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico. “Travelers should maintain a high level of situational awareness, avoid areas where illicit activities occur, and promptly depart from potentially dangerous situations.”
While you’re thinking about the area, be sure to read all of our Mexico content, including: