Tourists enjoy the beach in Zihuatanejo. Tourists enjoy the beach in Zihuatanejo.

Businesses worried by Zihuatanejo crime

30 have closed this year as criminal gangs fight over the territory

Business owners in the Guerrero municipality of Zihuatanejo say six months of increased violence are hurting its most profitable industry, tourism.


So far this year some 30 businesses have closed, including a hotel, due to a wave of crime in which 69 people have been assassinated this year in the coastal municipality. Three of those killed were municipal police.

Police presence has been reduced since a clean-up of the force earlier this year left 20 in jail and others disarmed, resulting in fewer patrols.

As a result, the streets in the cities of Zihuatanejo and Ixtapa are all but empty after nightfall. Stores, restaurants and shopping centers close at 9:00pm and few people venture outdoors after 10, reported the newspaper Reforma yesterday.

The owner of a local bed and breakfast said local criminal groups are using a “silver or lead” strategy.

“‘If you don’t pay extortion, we open fire on your business.’ It’s that simple, is what the criminals say.”

Earlier this week, Governor Héctor Astudillo Flores and his Tourism Secretary reported that hotel occupancy during the first summer vacation weekend had been over 80%. A local business leader disagreed.


Ricardo Sotelo Luna, president of the Business Council of Zihuatanejo, reported that occupancy rates are barely reaching 70%, and there are doubts about the prospects for the summer season.

Even high occupancy rates don’t mean that much because tourists arrive at their hotels in Ixtapa and never leave because “they know that coming down to [the city of] Zihuatanejo is dangerous,” said Sotelo.

Cleaning up the local police force occurred after gunmen attacked a police station in April, triggering action by state and federal police against what was identified as a group of fake police officers that had infiltrated the municipal force.

Some 60 police were arrested, 20 of whom are in jail awaiting trial.

Reforma reported today that at least three criminal groups are fighting over the plaza: Guerrero Guard, believed affiliated with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel, New Blood Guerrero, an extension of Los Viagras, and the Tequileros.

The National Public Security System says there were 55 homicides reported in the municipality in the first six months of the year, up by 13 over the same period last year.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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  • gypsyken

    The photo is mislabeled. It is not of the beach in Zihuatanejo, where the beaches are small and there are no high risers; it may be a photo of the beach in adjacent Ixtapa, which is lined with high-rise hotels, and is part of the municipality of Zihuatanejo. I can remember when Zihuatanejo (along with Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca) was one of the quietest, most tranquil sea-side villages one could imagine. I suppose Puerto Escondido, which I understand has grown, isn’t the same, either. To quote a famous tweeter, sad.

  • zihuarob

    The story was more or less copied from Reforma, an unreliable untrustworthy news source known for its sensationalism and fear-mongering. Downtown Zihuatanejo has been literally booming every night since the summer vacation period began. Last night we had to call police on noisy revelers parked nearby with their boombox car at full blast at 6 this morning.

    The real problem not discussed in the article is we’re attracting too many tourists with practically no purchasing power, and whatever profits made by the international and corporate owned hotels in Ixtapa goes to banks in other places and represents no real benefit to the local economy beyond the miserable wages they pay (and from which the unions take about half). In the case of Ixtapa they tend to stay in their all-included hotels without purchasing or consuming anything in the shopping centers in either Ixtapa or Zihuatanejo. In Zihuatanejo they tend to cram 10 to a hotel room and bring much of their foodstuffs with them and leave more garbage behind than profits for any of the local businesses. The tour buses simply leave mostly garbage, and I’d wager the city loses money on them cleaning up after them and repairing the damage the buses cause to our roads.

    • Güerito

      They didn’t “copy” the article from Reforma, they translated it to English. That what Mexican News Daily does.

      And Reforma is pretty much like the NY Times of Mexico. Mexico’s newspaper of record. It’s probably the most cited Mexican newspaper around the world.

      • zihuarob

        We’ll just have to agree to disagree. I’ve been reading Mexican newspapers for over 40 years, and I consider Reforma among the least reliable for factual and professional reporting, as their article regarding Ixtapa clearly demonstrates. I’ve lived in Zihuatanejo-Ixtapa for close to 30 years and I’m confident my take on local matters is more accurate than Reforma’s.

        • Güerito

          Do you make any money from the tourism industry in the area, zihuarob?

          • zihuarob

            My wife and I both depend on tourism for our income as do the rest of Zihuatanejo’s inhabitants directly or indirectly except its government workers.

    • Howie Kaplan

      July 31 2017 The following is an excerpt of your comment….”and bring much of their foodstuffs with them and leave more garbage behind than profits for any of the local businesses. The tour buses simply leave mostly garbage”….. I have seen the luggage storage bins with large amounts of coolers in them, of several of those 42+ passenger buses that bring “turismo social” to Z. NOT that it is a crime to bring beverages in an ice chest, but it does illustrate, at least partially, your point that they “bring much of their foodstuffs”. IF they are here for just one day, they can pack them with their sandwiches, drinks, etc., and won’t need to purchase anything here. And, I also have personally observed trash, precisely in the area where the buses park with the turismo social, e.g. the site at the esquina de Juan N. Álvarez y Benito Juarez.