UPDATE: This article has been updated with comments from the Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) regarding the nature of the murders and its impact on tourism in Cancun.
6 people were strangled to death and one decapitated in an outskirt of Cancun in a mass killing thought to be related to the drug trade, Reuters reports. Authorities say that they believe the murders were the work of an independent drug outfit without links to any major drug cartel. Since 2007 more than 70,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico.
The bodies were found on the patio of a house located in Region 102, a poor neighborhood on the western outskirt of the city, some distance away from the center of this hub of international tourism. The house was said to be known for suspicious activity. La Jornada reported that the victims had their hands and feet bound and their mouths wrapped with packing tape. Police have apprehended seven men they say are responsible for the killings.
The CVB released a statement saying the acts occurred "within a house in precarious living conditions, located in a low-income neighborhood, by the Cancun-Valladolid highway exit and away from the Hotel Zone" and said that "additional security has been implemented in the neighborhoods close to where the incident occurred for the safety of the local population". The Visitors Bureau added that normal tourist proceedings would continue unaffected and that the destination was preparing for an influx of visitors during the Riviera Maya Film Festival and other concerts taking place in the area. "Cancun and the hotel zone continue to be one of the safest touristic destinations in the world," the statement read.
The media company Grupo Reforma, which keeps a "ejecuto-metro" -- roughly , a 'kill-o-meter" -- recording the numbers of citizens murdered for drug-related causes, claims that throughout Mexico over 12,000 people were killed in 2011 alone as a consequence of the drug wars.
Acapulco, the country's other major tourist resort, has been severely shaken by crime in recent times. The Pacific state of Guerrero, in which it resides, has become another focal point -- just this past Sunday, five men were killed in a provincial town, with messages left on the scene communicating threats to other rival drug cartels. In February, six Spanish tourists were raped in their beach house in Acapulco. Six men were arrested and confessed to the crime, though there were accusations that the confessions had come under duress. About 40 people blocked the road to Acapulco's airport, protesting that the six were innocent.
But Cancun has largely been spared, and the incidents that have occurred taking place in the city's poorest outskirts, far from the tourist zones. Last month, in a bar on the outskirts of Cancun, two gunman opened fire in a bar, killing six and wounding five. Both gunmen used machine guns, which are permitted for use only by the military in Mexico. An estimated 45,000 tourists will reportedly travel there this year.
In a separate incident in Cancun, police on Sunday found the body of a man who had been gagged, bound and wrapped in sheets.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has pledged to put an end to the violence, which spiked after previous president Felipe Calderon sent the military to points across the country to fight the drug cartels.