Cancún, the paradise holiday destination, is fast becoming the murder capital of Mexico, according to reports coming out of the city.
The city, situated on the picturesque Yucatán peninsula and facing the Caribbean Sea, has been hit by a raft of killings related to the ongoing drug trade and the extortion of locals, reports the New York Post.
The murder rate has doubled in the past year, with over 100 murders committed since the start of 2018. Fourteen people were killed in one weekend at the beginning of April and five bodies were found stuffed into the back of a truck just this weekend.
"It's as if the police don't want anyone to notice. There's minimum fuss and hardly any officers here," said Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who was in the popular party resort to report on the murder rate for Australian broadcaster SBS.
"We've been told that local politicians here have put the press under pressure not to report violence in this area, because if the tourists are scared away from here, it will be an economic disaster not only for Cancún, but for Mexico."
People running in the street following a shooting attack in Cancun. Credit: PA
Tourism is worth billions of dollars to Cancún's economy - and Mexico's - but there are fears that the resort will go the way of Acapulco, which was once one of the most glamorous destinations in the world but is now the murder capital of the world.
Thousands of British people visit Cancún every year, with the majority unaware of the problems that exist outside of the walls of their resorts. Extortion is a major problem, with locals forced to pay gangsters protection money.
"They arrived one day and asked for between 15,000 and 20,000 pesos ($1,025-$1,367) a month. Probably around 30 or 40 percent of our turnover," said Lara, a local businesswoman, to the New York Post.
"It's not nice to walk in the street and find someone's head. It's very sad to know that your friends have been executed. Medics, taxi drivers, doctors, business people... no social class is exempt."
Soldiers on guard after an attack in Cancun. Credit: PA
The effect of the drug trade on murders is well known. According to World Atlas, of the cities with the highest murder rates in the world, five of the top ten are in Mexico and all are cities with large tourist industries.
Los Cabos, on the Baja California peninsula directly south of the border with the United States, tops the list, while Acapulco, on the Caribbean coast, is second and party capital Tijuana is fifth.
All have a murder rate that is above 100 per 100,000 people. For comparison, Europe's highest homicide rate is to be found in Tallinn, Estonia, which has just 5.5 per 100,000 people, while in the UK, Glasgow leads with 5.1 per 100,000.
Featured Image Credit: PA