Two Canadian tourists and one Argentine hotel manager have been found murdered in less than a week, in Mexico's Riviera Maya area. These events have once again put the spotlight on violence in this region full of beach resorts.
The Córdoba-born Federico Mazzoni, who emigrated to Mexico in 2002, was found lifeless in the bathroom of the Mamita's Beach Club hotel in Playa del Carmen where he worked, less than a week after the murder of two Canadians shot dead by a fellow countryman at a Xcaret hotel, it was reported.
Mazzoni's murder apparently took place Tuesday afternoon when two men shot him twice in the head. According to the newspaper El Universal, Mexican journalist Víctor Hugo Vargas, who knew the victim, said that gangs related to drug trafficking had demanded him an extortion fee, which he refused to do.
Federico became a prisoner of the violence that is experienced in southern Mexico. The authorities are trying to squeeze drug trafficking in tourist areas, so the criminals are looking [for other ways] to get easy money, Vargas explained. Criminal organizations often threaten and extort hotel workers to sell drugs, the reporter also pointed out.
Last week, Canadians Robert James Dinh and Thomas Cherukara, 34 years old each, were murdered at the Xcaret hotel not far from Playa del Carmen. Mexican authorities have announced the arrest Tuesday of two suspects, one Mexican and one Canadian, but a third perpetrator is said to be still at large. The case seems to be linked to a vendetta between Canadian mafia groups of Vietnamese origin dedicated to drug trafficking and money laundering for an outstanding debt.
Back on Nov. 5, two people were shot dead by a commando of 15 mercenaries who traveled on speedboats in Puerto Morelos, halfway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, also in the state of Quintana Roo, near the Belize border.
On Oct. 21, a German and an Indian national were murdered in Tulum, a short distance from Puerto Morelos, while three women, two of them of Dutch origin and one German were injured during a fight between drug dealers at the La Malquerida bar.
Violence has been on the rise for more than 15 years, resulting in some 335,000 people dead and 93,000 missing since the government launched its war against the cartels in December 2006, which has also hit other tourist areas on the Pacific coast, such as Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta.
Tourism in Quintana Roo accounts for 1.4% of Mexico's gross domestic product (GDP).