Cancun and Playa del Carmen businesses succumb to crime

Hundreds of businesses in Cancun and Playa del Carmen work under the harassment and threat of criminal groups.

Cancun and Playa del Carmen businesses succumb to crime
Businesses in Cancun and Playa del Carmen succumb to criminal taxation Image: Agencies

The collection of "quotas" or "derecho de piso" is growing out of control in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, two of the main tourist destinations in Quintana Roo and Mexico, where merchants and businessmen have become victims of organized crime that forces them to pay a "criminal tax" to operate their establishments.

To open a business in successful destinations such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Cozumel, is to be aware that sooner or later crime will catch up with you and you will have to pay or close, said Arturo "N", a Cancun businessman who was forced to close a motel due to threats received and the impossibility of paying fees, "because it is not only one, there are several criminal groups that come to extort you and you cannot pay them all", he stated.

In recent years, the merchants of Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum have suffered the onslaught of organized crime, which does not allow them to operate unless they pay "the quota" imposed by the different criminal gangs that have settled in the north of Quintana Roo.

The tourist success of these destinations has been tarnished by crime, which has found a "modus operandi" in the collection of the "derecho de piso", with a red balance and massive closure of businesses that cannot pay the costly "tax". "Either you pay or you close, if not, you know the consequences" is the constant threat to which hundreds of merchants from Cancun to Chetumal are subjected.

The most besieged places are the businesses located in the tourist sites, such as the hotel zone of Cancun, the Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen, Puerto Cancun, downtown, and the hotel zone of Tulum. Crime does not give respite to anyone, they also extort all types of businesses in the city and neighborhoods, even vendors of semi-fixed and street stalls, have been victims of the collection of fees under death threats.

In Cancun's hotel zone, many businesses and service providers have been imposed the "derecho de piso", cab drivers who do not pay a fee cannot circulate or pick up passengers in the hotel zone, and if they do, they are executed. In other cases, cab drivers are forced to sell drugs to work in the hotel zone.

In Playa del Carmen's Quinta Avenida, almost all businesses pay "derecho de piso", it is a successful and busy 4.5 kilometers long avenue, with more than 700 businesses where they are charged fees from 10 to 20 thousand pesos, although in some cases they exceed 25 thousand pesos and have reached up to 160 thousand pesos, according to reported cases.

It is no secret that the merchants refuse to denounce due to fear and threats against them and their families.

In 2021, more than 300 businesses were forced to close due to the "derecho de piso" and some 150 medium-sized businesses decided to leave the entity to move to other places, revealed Juan Jaime Minguer Cerón, president of Canaco-Servitur. Restaurants, bars, and businesses related to tourism pay from 5 to 20 thousand pesos per month to continue operating.

Small businesses, even taquerias, and grocery stores prefer to flee or abandon their businesses due to the harassment of crime and the safety of their families. Criminals burned a bus company in Cancún for refusing to pay the "derecho de piso" and have burned restaurants and bars such as "La Palapita", Las Micheladas del "Tío Toño", "Deja Vu", "El Timón de Cancún", among others.

Some businesses have been shot at with firearms for not paying the quotas demanded by criminal groups, in some cases resulting in fatalities, including employees and diners. Threats and attacks are almost daily on restaurants, bars, discotheques, barbershops, pizzerias, liquor stores, breweries, nightclubs, and mini-supers, businesses that do not escape crime.

According to business and restaurant leaders, the quotas depend on the business and the area; the extortions are paid monthly or weekly, nobody escapes, the merchants are harassed, persecuted, threatened, and finally executed if they do not pay.

On Sunday night, February 7, a merchant was shot to death inside her cell phone business in region 107 of Cancun, MZ 24, lot 30 Arrecifes street in the Paraiso Maya subdivision, for refusing to pay the fee. This case is just one more of the extortions and murders that are committed daily in this destination against all types of businesses that operate at the mercy of crime.

Source: El Sol de Mexico