Caribbean resorts now ‘open shop’ for drug cartels as tourists become collateral damage: ‘Rules have changed’

Tropical resorts that Americans used to flock to for vacations are no longer “off limits” to the vicious cartels as tourists become collateral damage in a “war zone.”

Four Mexican drug cartels who are warring for turf over an 80-mile stretch of resorts along the Caribbean coast are leaving dead vacationers in their wake. The cartels want to control the area due to the $30 billion in tourism revenue that flows through the area according to Jay Armes III who spoke with Fox News Digital.

“In the process, Americans — and visitors from around the world — have become collateral damage, seen gruesome violence or “just disappear, wiped off the face of the earth,” Armes told the media outlet.

“Over the last two weeks, cartel members dismembered rival gang members with machetes in tourist hot spot Cancun; a California woman was killed in the crossfire near a popular Tulum beach; and an abducted New York man was left in a secluded jungle with his eyes taped shut,” the news outlet reported.

(Video Credit: Fox News Digital)

Those two high-profile stories hit the news but there are many, many more that never get airtime.

“It’s all horrifying to us, but to people in Mexico, it’s just a Tuesday. This happens all the time all over the country,” Armes pointed out. “But now it’s happening in areas that used to be off limits.”

The private investigator recounted that 15 to 20 years ago, the cartels lived by a “code similar to the Italian mob.” Those days are long gone and things have changed for the worse.

“In the old days, you weren’t allowed to target women or children. You weren’t allowed to encroach on another cartel’s territory. And the resorts were off-limits. … Cartels wanted to fly under the radar as much as they could,” Armes recounted.

He noted that if a foreigner was killed in a tourist spot, especially an American, there would be too much heat as a result of the unwanted attention and “mandatory, swift” action from the Mexican government, military, and law enforcement.

However, the money flowing through the resorts is just too big a temptation to the cartels these days. Tourists have long believed that they are protected from violence in Cancun and other resorts but that just isn’t the case anymore. Now, for all intents and purposes, they are walking into a war zone.

“The rules have changed,” Armes asserted. “All that old guard code is out the window. The resorts are open shop.”

“Who we see as tourists are potential customers or potential victims to the cartels,” he stated. “Even if it’s 1% or 5% (of tourists to the resort areas), that’s millions of customers and a big chunk of business.”

The cartels seeking dominance in the area include “El Chapo’s old cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel; the Gulf Cartel; the Jalisco New Generation Cartel; and the Grupo Regional, a ‘smaller’ cartel created by former Zetas, brutally violent cartel enforcers,” according to Armes.

“With all these young kids coming up (through the cartel ranks), there’s no respect for anything,” he contended. “It’s become a free-for-all.”

Tourists become victims of violence including robberies and sex trafficking. Many are just in the wrong place at the wrong time with deadly consequences. Kidnapping is also big business for the cartels.

Some bystanders get killed in proximity to drug deals where a message is being sent. Machetes are used to behead and hack people to death. Public hangings are not uncommon either.

(Video Credit: KTLA 5)

The Mayan ruins in the Mexican state of Chiapas are virtually unreachable due to cartel violence now.

“The government and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have been downplaying gang violence, but starting around December, tourists have canceled about 5% of trips booked for the area,” Fox News reported.

“Politicians pretending people aren’t being killed at an exponential rate or downplaying the violence is a major component of the entangled, complex web in Mexico that “basically gives the cartels immunity,” Armes claimed.

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