Four warring Mexican drug cartels kill indiscriminately to assert their dominance over an 80-mile stretch of resorts along the Caribbean coast to take advantage of the country’s $30 billion in tourism revenue, said private investigator Jay Armes III to Fox News Digital.

In the process, Americans (and visitors from around the world) have become collateral damage, seen horrific violence, or “have simply disappeared, wiped off the face of the earth,” Armes said.

Over the past two weeks, cartel members have dismembered rival gang members with machetes in the tourist hotspot of Cancun; A California woman died in crossfire near a popular Tulum beach; and a kidnapped New York man was abandoned in a secluded jungle with his eyes taped shut.

And that’s just what makes the national news.

THE KIDNAPPING IN MEXICO WAS A BUSINESS. NOW THERE IS NO CODE TO STOP RUTHLESS: EXPERT

Poster military weapons

Mexican marines escort five suspected Zetas cartel drug traffickers in front of an RPG-7 rocket launcher, hand grenades, guns, cocaine and military uniforms seized from alleged members of the Zetas cartel on June 9, 2011, in the Marine Secretary. In Mexico City.

“Everything is horrible for us, but for people in Mexico it’s just a Tuesday. This happens all the time all over the country,” Armes said. “But now it’s happening in areas that used to be off-limits.”

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About 15 or 20 years ago, cartel bosses lived by a “code similar to that of the Italian mafia,” said the renowned private investigator.

“In the old days, you weren’t allowed to attack women or children. You couldn’t invade another cartel’s territory. And resorts were prohibited… The cartels wanted to blend in as much as they could.”

AMERICAN KIDNAPPED IN MEXICO, LEFT TO DIE IN THE JUNGLE WITH EYES AND WRISTS TAPPED

A foreigner killed in a tourist area, especially an American, attracted unwanted attention and “mandatory and swift” actions by the Mexican government, military and authorities, Armes said.

Government leaders wanted to protect tourism, which has been the country’s legal economic foundation for decades.

In 2022 alone, there were 66 million international visitors, including nearly 34 million American tourists, according to the Mexican Ministry of Tourism and Statista, respectively.

Most travelers arrived through Cancun International Airport, which received 36.1% of all inbound passengers, according to a January report from travelinglifestyle.net, to vacation on the beautiful white sand beaches, thinking that were isolated from cartel violence.

MEXICAN AUTHORITIES ARRESTS 6 IN CONNECTION WITH HORRIBLE MACHETE MURDERS IN CANCUN

In reality, they have become war zones.

“The rules have changed,” Armes said. “All that old guard code is out the window. The resorts are open.”

He noted how travel bloggers and social media influencers have attracted an influx of travelers the gangs have never seen before.

“Who we see as tourists are potential clients or potential victims of the cartels,” Armes said. “Even if it’s 1% or 5% (of tourists who go to tourist areas), it’s millions of customers and a big part of the business.”

cancun pool

Shots were fired on a beach in the resort of Cancun on Mexico’s Caribbean coast on Tuesday, sending tourists seeking shelter.

LOOK: SHOOTING BETWEEN CARTELS AND MEXICAN AUTHORITIES

Four main cartels want all the business in those areas. That includes El Chapo’s former cartel, the Sinaloa Cartel; the Gulf Cartel; the Jalisco New Generation Cartel; and the Regional Group, a “smaller” cartel created by former Zetas, brutally violent enforcers of the cartel, Armes said.

“With all these young people coming up (in the cartel ranks), there is no respect for anything,” he said. “It has become a pitched battle.”

CALIFORNIA WOMAN SHOT DEAD IN A MEXICAN TOURIST TOWN POPULAR AMONG AMERICANS

And travelers are sucked into the violence, whether as targets of robbery or sex trafficking or as innocent bystanders in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“One of the unfortunate byproducts of the drug wars and drug trafficking is, inevitably, that some innocent person will be caught in the crossfire when cartels shoot at each other,” Armes said.

Joseph Constantine Buonincontri, man kidnapped in New York, found in the Mexican jungle

Joseph Constantine Buonincontri, 35, was kidnapped by men and abandoned in the Mexican jungle blindfolded, according to a Mexican prosecutor.

Cancun to Tulum along the Caribbean coast of Mexico

The 80-mile stretch from Cancun to Tulum in Mexico is filled with gorgeous resorts and battlefields between warring cartels.

That’s what happened to 44-year-old Los Angeles native Niko Honarbakhsh, according to the Quintana Roo State Attorney General’s Office.

On February 9, Honarbakhsh was killed, along with a Belizean drug trafficker who had cocaine and “clear bags with red and orange pills” in his possession, as well as bags with “brown granulated powder” when he was killed, the Mexican outlet said. the attorney general’s office said.

4 BUS DRIVERS AND TAXI DRIVERS KILLED IN VIOLENT SOUTHERN MEXICO CITY

That’s different from the men who were hacked to death in Cancun, Armes said.

“That was violence between drug traffickers. It was a very public murder that was intended to be a warning,” he said. “When they leave bodies to be found in the trunk of a car, inside a car on the street, in a public place hanging from a bridge, a cartel is sending a message to a rival cartel or putting fear in politicians” .

CJNG drug cartel

The initials of the “Jalisco Nueva Generación” (CJNG) drug cartel in graffiti on a wall in Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco state, Mexico, on August 29, 2023.

Another popular tourist spot is the Mayan ruins in the Mexican state of Chiapas, about 700 miles east of the Caribbean coast resorts, near the border with Guatemala.

They have been virtually isolated by cartel violence, the Mexican government admitted, according to a Jan. 27 Associated Press report.

GANG VIOLENCE IN MEXICO MAKES SOME MAYAN RUIN SITES UNREACHABLE, MEXICAN GOVERNMENT SAYS

Two tour guides in Chiapas, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity, said two other sites that the Mexican government says are still open to visitors can only be reached by passing through drug gang checkpoints.

“It’s like you told me to go to the Gaza Strip, right?” one of the guides told the AP.

mayan ruins

Tourists in Yaxchilán, Usumacinta Province, Chiapas, Mexico.

mayan site

The Labyrinth, Structure 19, Yaxchilán archaeological site, Chiapas, Mexico.

“They take your cell phone and demand your login code, and then they check your conversations to see if you belong to any other gang,” the guide said.

“At any moment, a rival group could appear and start a shootout.”

The government and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador have been downplaying gang violence, but as of December, tourists have canceled about 5% of trips booked in the area.

Politicians pretending that people are not being murdered at an exponential rate or downplaying the violence is an important component of the complex and tangled web in Mexico that “basically gives immunity to the cartels,” Armes said.

Fox News Digital mitch picasso contributed to this report.

Original article source: Tropical resorts popular with Americans are no longer ‘off-limits’ to cartel killers: ‘The rules have changed’

By Sam