Drug Violence Comes To Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur, México?

This is a post I had hoped never to have to make. While the rest of México seemed to be drowning in drug violence, Baja Sur and the Los Cabos area appeared to be an island of safety. Last week, everything may have changed.

On Tuesday October 25, the commander of the homicide division of the Cabo San Lucas police,  Martín Márquez Ruíz, was murdered. He was 48 years old and had been with the police since 1999. It is very difficult for me to read the Spanish used in news reports. I wonder if it is written purposefully to be convoluted. Even my completely bilingual daughter has trouble with it. As best I can tell, the commander was kidnapped around 7:30 am while leaving his home to go to work. He was taken by several armed and masked assailants. Several hours later, his body was recovered in barrio Jardines del Sol. Death was from gun shots.

I was in Cabo San Lucas that day and there were roadblocks set up in various areas on the highway. The police seemed to know what vehicle type they were looking for as most cars and trucks were allowed to pass but small white sedans were stopped. At one point I saw many trucks full of army troops racing from the Costco area back towards the center of town. (Long post and links follow the break. Be sure to read followup post too: New Info on Cabo Violence.)

On Friday night, the police and military forces visited an address in barrio Brisas del Pacifico seeking information about the murder and were themselves fired upon. A four hour battle ensued with small arms fire and grenade explosions. There were two deaths, one suspect and one marine. Three police officers were injured.

Saturday October 29, around 1 pm, members of the police were allegedly attacked while searching the Plaza Sendero Mall (home of Soriana in Cabo San Lucas) for injured suspects from the Friday night encounter. Allegedly 12-15 gunmen were involved. The police and military sent reinforcements and a two hour battle ensued.

Civilians were kept in the mall stores until they could be safely evacuated. Supposedly one gunman entered Soriana and the military followed but there was no shooting inside. No civilians were injured or kidnapped. No hostages were taken. Several people were later treated for shock by the Red Cross. Five gunmen were allegedly taken into custody.

Today, the state police admitted that they have no choice but to acknowledge the presence of organized crime in the form of drug cartels in Los Cabos,  Baja California Sur. They do not have any evidence indicating exactly which cartels are involved but suspect Los Zetas and  the Beltrán Leyva Cartel.

Why Los Cabos? Some people believe that with all the government pressure on the mainland, cartels are coming here to launder their money by investing cash in the high priced real estate and business market of Los Cabos.

English language links:

Telegraph.co.uk with video
AP via Google Hosted News
BorderlandBeat.com with videos

Spanish language links:

Sinembargo.mx
SDPnoticias.com
Excelsior.com.mx

Official Press Release From the Mexican Federal Government:

Monday, October 31, 2011

Mexican Government Denies Hostages Taken in Cabo San Lucas

Presidency of the Republic

The Public Security Coordination Group in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, made up of the armed forces and federal and state public security and law enforcement institutions, denies that any hostages were taken during the October 29 afternoon events* in Plaza Sendero, in Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, and confirms that no one was injured.

During the event, three civilians were reported to have had nervous breakdowns and were transferred by Mexican Red Cross ambulances to receive medical assistance.

The authorities arrested three alleged criminals currently in custody of the Municipal Police in Los Cabos, who will transfer them to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

These arrests were the result of close coordination between the armed forces and the local and federal security authorities in Baja California Sur.

At the moment, there is nothing to suggest that these events were linked with those registered on Saturday morning in the Brisas del Pacífico neighborhood. During those events, two assailants were arrested and a member of the Naval Secretariat and a criminal lost their lives.

Authorities will keep the population informed of the results yielded by the investigations into these events, and they urge citizens to ignore rumors of alarm or danger since the situation in the area has returned to normal.

(If you are reading this post on any blog other than www.todossantos.net then you are reading copyrighted content that was reposted without permission of the author, i.e. Howard Ekman.)

7 Responses to Drug Violence Comes To Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur, México?

  1. We purchased a vacation property outside Todos Santos this year. We spent allot of time at the Plaza purchasing items for the home. Thank you so much for your site. It is the number one way we stay informed about an area we love. Our hearts are broken by these events.

    • Mike, it makes me happy to know that my efforts help you. Thank you. It saddens me to have to post entries about violence in such a peaceful place and so close to Todos Santos.

  2. My husband and I were in Cabo last week with friends and noticed the Marines in trucks Saturday afternoon around the Marina. We had been out the evening before at Cabo Villa for dinner…..even the ride into town could have been dangerous at the time we came in. This changes everything for us now as we own two different properties (time share) there. I will make no plans to return for now. What a tragedy for their economy as more people stay away.

  3. We are traveling to Cabo san Lucas 11/12-19. Has there been any further violence in the past week and a half? Would you hesitate to go into Cabo san Lucas or San Jose del Cabo during daylight hours? How about driving a rental car to Todos Santos or La Paz?

    • Joe. I have not read nor heard any more info about the violence in Cabo San Lucas. There have been no new incidents to my knowledge. I would not hesitate to visit any location in Baja Sur. Life here is extremely peaceful and the people are wonderfully helpful especially if you try to speak Spanish.

  4. Joe, my husband and I were in Cabo San Lucas the week of the police shooting and heard several Americans in our resort talking about it. We took a rental car from CSL to Todos Santos on Friday Oct 30, late morning, and saw a slew of police in riot/swat gear swarming a nicer residential development on Hwy 1 leaving CSL toward Todos Santos. We were stopped at a roadblock a few miles down the road; the police officer wasn’t providing any information about the incident, so it may be related to the Friday night incident.
    One word of caution about driving to Todos Santos–the road is mostly out, we drove on very rough rocks and dirt roads for most of the way. We thought about turning back more than once, as there were several dead tires along the way and we were concerned we’d add to the pile. Expect the trip to take about two hours if you do decide to go; at any rate, be certain you know how to change a tire.
    The following week we spent in San Jose del Cabo and had less excitement. It’s a beautiful area, it’s truly unfortunate that the drug business has made its way there–guess there is nowhere to escape it in MX now.

    • I believe that the roadblocks were setup after the murder of the homicide police chief on Tuesday morning. The shootings related to that murder happened in the early morning hours of Saturday, October 29. The Plaza Sendero incident happened around 1 pm on Saturday afternoon. I know if felt like most of the highway to Todos Santos was out but really, about 1/3 is really bad (dirt, rocks, poor signage), about 1/3 is two lane asphalt with relatively clear markings and 1/3 is four lane and very well marked. I have made the trip from the center of Todos Santos to the entrance of Cabo San Lucas in around an hour before during construction but I was lucky and also drive a truck. I think it’s reasonable to allow 1.5 hours for the journey and you might get there a bit faster depending on traffic. And the highway is improving rapidly but you truly do not want to make that drive at night – it’s very dangerous. The slowest part will be the building of so many bridges over arroyos. But it will be great to no longer have the highway wash out when there are heavy rains in the summer months.

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