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3 shot dead on beaches in Acapulco, including one by gunmen who arrived — and escaped — by boat

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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 with three people being gunned down in recent days.

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 violence continues despite the presence of thousands of soldiers and National Guard officers deployed to the city after Category 5 Hurricane Otis in late October.

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.

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The government said it was deploying detectives to patrol the beaches “in light of the violent events that have occurred recently.”

Guerrero State Civil Defense Office


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.

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.

“Remember, don’t put yourself at risk. If a person invites you to this kind of deception, he is not really your friend,” the office added.

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.

Violence in Acapulco persists

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.

Last April, three people were killed in a shooting and a subsequent chase by police officers at a beachside restaurant in Acapulco. Officials said police chased the attackers down the beach as they were “escaping towards the sea,” officials said.

Days later, two men who were apparently Mexican tourists were killed and a woman was wounded in shooting not far from the beach.

In January 2023, prosecutors said they found the bodies of five men in a village north of Acapulco. Prosecutors did not give details on the killings, but local media reported the bodies had been hacked up and left in plastic bags.

The month before that,  eight people were killed in Acapulco in a single day, including five men who were gunned down in a bar.

Last March, the U.S. State Department warned Americans to skip spring break vacations in Mexico, noting that ongoing violence posed a significant safety threat.

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