Twenty-two tourists were robbed at gunpoint Feb. 23 in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco state, while returning to their cruise ship from a nature preserve as part of planned activities for their Carnival cruise. Masked gunmen stopped their bus and forced the passengers to hand over cash, cameras, watches and other valuables. Though no one was injured in the incident, the robbery demonstrates the degradation of security as a result of the ongoing drug wars in Mexico.
Targeting a group this large is unusual for the area for a number of reasons. Transnational criminal organizations (TCOs), commonly referred to as cartels, typically do not target tourists in Mexico's popular resort areas in order to avoid attracting unwanted attention. Local organized criminal groups try to avoid attacking tourists, and the citizens of resort areas try to prevent attacks on tourists, since all residents benefit from the revenue tourists bring to the area through the purchase of goods and through tour packages.
Local organized crime and TCOs may avoid targeting tourists, but the insecurity resulting from the drug wars helps individual criminals and small cells of criminals thrive. This robbery is likely the act of an isolated group of criminals. Since several competing criminal groups, such as Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Federation, are engaged in drug trade-related violence throughout Jalisco state, fewer law enforcement resources are available to deal with individual criminal actors.
CJNG Leader Arrested
Mexican authorities announced Feb. 23 the arrest of Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG) plaza boss Adolfo Solis Bejarano in Veracruz, Veracruz state. Mexican marines reportedly found Solis while on patrol after receiving an anonymous tip. According to authorities, Solis is linked to 67 murders from two incidents in 2011 in Veracruz state, including a Sept. 20 incident in which 35 bodies were dumped on a street in Boca del Rio, Veracruz state. CJNG has been conducting an offensive campaign against Los Zetas in Veracruz state since CJNG's incursion into the Zetas stronghold in mid-2011. Solis is one of the highest-level CJNG leaders that authorities have captured in Veracruz state since CJNG's initial incursion. While the impact of Solis' arrest is not certain, CJNG is at a disadvantage in replenishing its ranks in Veracruz.