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Defense Minister Sandoval Defense Minister Sandoval at the presidential press conference Wednesday.

Government announces new tourism security battalion as part of National Guard

The new force will deploy 1,445 guardsmen to the Riviera Maya in Quintana Roo

The National Guard will patrol tourist destinations in Quintana Roo with a new tourism security battalion. 

The new force will be formed of 1,445 National Guardsmen and begin operations on December 1 to combat crime in the Riviera Maya, which encompasses Tulum.

The latter destination has seen a rapid rise in violence, with an 80.5% jump in homicides in the first nine months of the year in annual terms.  

Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval announced the formation of the new security force at President López Obrador’s morning news conference on Wednesday, held in Cancún. He said the battalion’s priority will be serving the municipalities of Benito Juárez (Cancún), Solidaridad (Playa del Carmen) and Tulum, locations with the state’s highest crime rates.

The force could be replicated in other parts of the country that are dependent on tourism. “It will be possible to take this model that we will use here … to apply it in other areas of the republic, in the main tourist centers …” he said.

The president confirmed that violence in the area in recent weeks had triggered the creation of the battalion. “They are painful events because nationals and foreigners lost their lives. That cannot be repeated, we have to prevent that from happening, that is why we have the plan to reinforce security,” he said.

Business organizations called on the government earlier this month to reinforce security in the state after shootings in Tulum and Puerto Morelos.

The armed forces has seen its list of duties grow significantly under the López Obrador administration. Apart from security, military personnel have distributed gasoline, textbooks, vaccines and medication and are in charge of border surveillance, the detention and inspection of migrants and the construction and operation of the new Felipe Ángeles airport, set to open next year near Mexico City.

With reports from El Universal and Expansión Política

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