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Baja California Sur murder rate up 433% in 1st quarter!

Baja California with Baja California Sur on the bottom (southern part of the peninsula)

Baja California with Baja California Sur on the bottom (southern part of the peninsula)

The murder rate in Baja California Sur in the first three months of 2017 have hot up by an alarming 433% over the same period last year as rival gangs fight to take over the territory. Don’t confuse Baja California Sur (the darker part of the peninsula on out map) with Baja California to the north (the lighter part of the peninsula on the map).

There were 27 intentional homicides during the first quarter of 2016 and a whopping 144 in the same period this year.

Statistics from the National Public Security System show that extortion and kidnapping are also increasing.

On June 7, state authorities found 18 bodies—13 men and five women—in a clandestine grave on a private property near the fashionable resort town of Los Cabos. It was the first time that such a discovery has been made in the tourism-oriented region.

“For us this is totally unusual,” said state Interior Secretary Álvaro de la Peña Angulo. “It’s something unprecedented in the history of Baja California Sur. The whole country has a very acute problem and without any doubt the Baja California peninsula from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas has been throughout history a springboard to transport drugs from south to north. That’s very attractive for criminals. They are not groups that are established in the state. They have arrived from other states like Sinaloa and Jalisco and from the north of the peninsula.”

He conceded that without a coordinated effort from federal forces, the escalating violence in Baja California Sur is going to be impossible to contain.

So far, visitor numbers have not been adversely affected in a region where tourism is vital to the local economy and domestic and international tourists spend approximately $668 million annually.

A relieved state Tourism Secretary indicated that it was business as usual despite the wave of violence—so far.

“There are confrontations that have occurred between criminal groups; it hasn’t affected the tourist zone or any visitors,” said Luis Genaro Ruíz.

However, some residents face a different reality.

One example is the case of Petra Muñoz Pulido, a journalist with 40 years’ experience.

Since 2014, she has participated in a federal government protection scheme for journalists after receiving a death threat via a banner hung from her home in La Paz, which she has been forced to convert into a virtual fortress.

“Before the most momentous thing that could happen was robbery, assault, a crash, a fire; that was what tormented us, but since a few years ago it turned into a fearful situation for all of us.” She now lives with security measures that one would never have thought possible.

Muñoz’ situation became even more complicated when her 31-year-old son, who worked with her on her political magazine Expreso, was abducted last December.

She believes police investigators carried out the kidnapping – an incredible possibility. However, she states that the state Attorney General’s office has made no progress in its investigation. She even fears that information that she provided to authorities may be counterproductive and could backfire on her.

“The authorities don’t want to talk about clandestine graves but there they are. I fear the information that I gave the Attorney General’s office to look for my son, may sink him further. I don’t want to think the worst but who are those people in the graves? The disappeared. There are many people missing and their families are afraid to report it.”

Interior Secretary Álvaro de la Peña Angulo confirms Petra Muñoz Pulido’s conclusion, stating, “It’s absolutely clear to us that all those people [in the graves] disappeared . . . people who sadly somehow disappeared from somewhere.”

A Canadian man was found brutally beaten to death on a beach between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo yesterday morning.

The state prosecutor’s office revealed that 50-year-old Marty Gary Atwood died from severe head trauma and a crushing skull fracture. His body was discovered on fashionable El Tule beach.

The sighting of a suspicious vessel off Cabo San Lucas on June 26 led to the seizure of nearly 4,000 pounds of cocaine by Mexican armed forces.

When the Navy went to investigate the boat, which was spotted in the early morning about 100 miles south of Cabo San Lucas, its crew dumped overboard 76 bags of white powder and fled the scene. The bags were gathered up by marines and transported to the naval facility in Los Cabos where they were confirmed to contain cocaine, estimated to be worth US $50 million in the United States market.

More than a ton of cocaine was seized by the Navy off the coast of Chiapas on June 21, which followed yet another seizure of 1540 pounds of cocaine in the same area on June 16.

Near the city of La Paz, back on March 12th, a group of 25 tourists, mostly foreigners, were enjoying a visit to Isla Espíritu Santo when they were accosted and robbed by three armed men.

The visitors, who had traveled to the island aboard three boats, were robbed of cash, cameras, phones, wallets and passports. They are very lucky to be alive.

Baja California Sur was ranked as the fourth least peaceful in the country in 2016, but with the rates crimes also on the rise—things are getting much much worse.

The difference between Baja California and Baja California Sur

Baja California is the northern part of the peninsula, and Baja California Sure is on the southern part. Baja California is on the border with the United States. The part of Baja California along the Pacific Coast is not all that safe. However, going inland to Tecate and Mexicali are the safest areas. The drive through Baja California’s beautiful wine producing Guadalupe Valley from Tecate to Ensenada is safe, with fantastic wine tasting opportunities along the way. Stick to this part of Baja California and you should be safe.

We have driven all the way from Mexicali to Tecate and then through the Guadalupe Valley to Ensenada and back to Mexicali in one (long) day. It is a beautiful ride and we recommend it.

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