Drug Violence Rocks Tourist Mecca of Acapulco

Another day, another story of violence in Mexico spurred by the ongoing war between the government and drug cartels. But now, the violence has spilled over into the tourist destination of Acapulco, causing dozens of frightened visitors to flee their hotels and head home.

A gun battle erupted in the heart of Acapulco over the weekend when Mexican soldiers, acting on a tip, invaded Avenida Rancho Grande—a suspected hideout of the Beltran Leyva drug gang. The soldiers were immediately met with intense gunfire. The fight lasted at least two hours and, when all was said and done, soldiers killed 16 suspected gangsters and lost two of their own. They also seized 36 assault rifles, two grenade launchers, 13 pistols and 3,500 rounds of ammunition from the scene, the Defense Ministry reported.

In retaliation, unidentified gunmen attacked two police stations just days later, killing three more Mexican police. Armed with AK-47s, the gunmen stepped out of two luxury vehicles and opened fire on the first police station in the Ciudad Renacimiento neighborhood of Acapulco. Thirty minutes later, another police station in the city was attacked. Since then, soldiers in tanks and helicopters have been keeping watch over the popular tourist destination. After the devastating effect the swine flu had on tourism, officials are worried what the impact of this latest violence will be on the tourist economy of Acapulco and other popular resort areas.

“Be certain that the federal government will continue working hard on behalf of tourism,” President Felipe Calderón said Saturday at a small resort on the country’s Caribbean coast. “Because to support tourism is to support Mexico.”