Soldiers have been deployed to patrol beaches in Cancun, Mexico, to protect holidaymakers as drug cartel violence spirals out of control.
A 1,500-strong battalion from Mexico's National Guard appeared last Wednesday in the state of Quintana Roo, arriving in the tourist towns of Isla Mujeres, Solidaridad, Puerto Morelos and Tulum.
It comes following cartel shootings on November 17 which claimed the lives of two female tourists, one from San Jose in California.
The shooting led Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to introduce a Tourist Security Battalion in the National Guard.
The move was "too little, too late", criminal expert Robert Almonte told the Daily Mail.
The former US Marshal for the Western District of Texas explained: "Tourists have been getting killed or assaulted at the resorts for some time now and it wasn't until lately that the president decided to create this special unit to specifically address the resort area.
"They are not going to let the presence of the national guardsmen deter them from executing their hit, from killing someone."
Mara Lezama, mayor of Benito Juarez, welcomed the new measures in Cancun. She said: "It's a great day, a historic day on the issue of preventing crime and security."
November 17's killings were just the latest in a new wave of drug cartel violence that has gripped the sunny resort of Cancun.
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On November 4, 15 'sicarios' – cartel assassins – shot and killed two rival drug dealers on a beach next to the Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun hotel.
Panicked tourists hid in their hotel rooms as the armed gang opened fire in broad daylight and made their getaway on speedboats.
Two other tourists died in an October 20 shootout in Tulum. Anjali Ryoy was a 25-year-old Indian national from California, and 35-year-old Jennifer Henzold was from Germany.
Three other tourists were also wounded.
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Another tourist, from Kentucky, was shot and wounded on June 11 after cartel members stormed a beach on jet skis and murdered two people working in a gift shop.
In recent years Quintana Roo state has become a hotbed for cartel murders, after years of registering very few homicides compared to the rest of Mexico.
Between January and September this year there were 442 killings there. The same period in 2020 saw 463, compared to just 145 for the whole on 2010.
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