In January, a lone gunman entered the trendy Blue Parrot nightclub in the upscale Mexican resort town of Playa del Carmen and opened fire. Chaos ensued as the crowd scrambled for cover as the gunman traded shots with another man inside the club and security working the annual BPM music festival tried to suppress the melee.
When the bullets stopped flying in what is believed to be a drug cartel-related gunfight, five people were dead – including a Canadian bodyguard caught in the crossfire and an American teenager who was trampled to death as panicked partiers fled the club.
On Sunday, sunbathing tourists were forced to take cover on the white sand beaches of Los Cabos – a popular getaway at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula – as gunmen unloaded and left three people dead.
These two incidents bookended a bloody eight months for the resort towns of both of Mexico’s coast, heightening concerns that the country’s ongoing drug war could leave more tourists dead and threaten Mexico’s multibillion dollar tourism industry.
“We’re in a period of disequilibrium and it will take some time to get back to equilibrium,” Christopher Wilson, the deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told Fox News.
In Quintana Roo, the Mexican state that is home to both Cancún and Playa del Carmen, the government has recorded 134 homicides this year, which is nearly equal to the 165 the state saw in the entirety of 2016. The Benito Juárez municipality, which includes Cancún, has already surpassed last year’s homicide total of 89 when it ended June with 95 murders and in nearby Solidaridad has registered 21 slaying through June, closing in on last year’s total of 26. In Los Cabos, homicides in the famed beach area are up 400 percent this year.
The U.S State Department, which last updated its Travel Warning for Mexico last December, cautioned travelers of the dangers of travel in Baja California, but so far has no advisory for Quintana Roo.
Mexico’s drug war, which began in earnest in 2006 when then-President Felipe Calderón declared an all-out military offensive on the country’s narcrotraffickers, has left at least 200,000 dead. While current President Enrique Peña Nieto came into office in 2012 at time when violence was on the decline, the bloodshed continues and in June the country saw a record number of killings with the 2,566 homicides victims being the most in a…