Saturday, February 25, 2012

Drugs float ashore on Playa del Carmen

Sixty keys overboard? Forget about it

Updated Jan. 17, 2013*
You never know what you'll encounter when you go beachcombing. In the tourist mecca of Playa del Carmen (Quintana Roo state), yesterday afternoon it turned out to be 60 kilos (132 pounds) of pure Colombia cocaine.

The discovery was made about 4:00 p.m. by a beach runner who notified nearby hotel security guards and police. The cocaine was tightly sealed in 35 heavy plastic bags, which in turn were well secured in a larger plastic container. The drugs were in perfect condition, resting on the beach a few meters from the ocean, obviously packaged by professionals.

Authorities in Playa say that discovery of drugs on beaches is not unusual. In this case, drug traffickers hauling cocaine from Colombia by boat came ashore (almost, anyway) on a remote stretch of beach, probably not far from the hotel zone and undoubtedly under cover of darkness. A vehicle (or more than one) was waiting. In the rush to offload many kilos, this particular container fell into the sea. Maybe the traffickers didn't notice it, but more likely they just didn't care. Every businessman understands that spoilage or loss of part of a product in route to market is inevitable, and that's exactly what happened in this case. The accountants in Medellín will update their books accordingly.

Last week authorities found a kilo and a half of marijuana on a beach in the same area. They say all the drugs coming ashore in this region are ultimately U.S.-bound (overland). Unless my geography is off, I'd say there's an excellent chance some or all of them are moving through Yucatán. But the state government says there's no trafficking here . . .

Feb. 26: Q.R. authorities now say that the cocaine actually weighed in at slightly under 26 kilos, or about 57 pounds. The street price of cocaine varies dramatically based upon purity, where it's being sold and myriad other factors. But the 26,000 grams in this case were easily worth several million dollars. And how much more is sitting on the sea floor just a few meters off the beach?

June 2 - More dope comes ashore in Quintana Roo

Jan. 17, 2013 - Once again cocaine bricks - weighing about 10 kilos in all - have been found on a remote stretch of beach in Quintana Roo, near the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto (scene of a brutal September 2011 execution). Authorities say the drugs came from Columbia, and were probably part of the typical two ton shipments which regularly arrive along the coast. In their haste traffickers left these carefully wrapped packages behind, or perhaps they fell overboard and then washed ashore. All of the coke is bound for customers in the U.S., according to local officials, via land routes across the Yucatán peninsula. The drugs will be destroyed, but they're a minute fraction of what gets through.

2012 stories
June 22 - Sigue llegando cocaína
June 11 - Sigue llegando droga:
June 10 - Continúa la oleada de droga:
June 2 - More dope comes ashore in Quintana Roo:
May 31 - Cocaína en Punta Pájaros:
Mexican armed forces raid drug houses in Playa del Carmen tourist zone:
Is Yucatán immune to narco violence?:
Honduras new warehouse for U.S.-bound cocaine, "where the consumers are":


  1. Unfortunetly the municipal government is closing one eye hoping the problem will go away. We have been going to Cancun/Playa Del Carmen for the last 20 years and the situiation is getting worse every year. Majority of our friends are staying away from mexico and finding other tropical destinations unfortunetly.
    Need to fix this situation or it will become drug central for all of the narcos.

  2. Thanks for your note. You, as a 20 year visitor, are in a better position than I am to verify what's really going on in Q.R. state. I hardly know the area, but many Mexicans -- people who have lived on the Yucatán peninsula their entire lives -- have told me they don't trust it any more, other than just a brief visit to the major tourist locations. But even those eventually could become risky. Once upon a time, not so many years ago, Juárez was a nice place to visit for the afternoon, to eat lunch or dinner, do some shopping, etc. But nobody goes there now, unless they're in full body armor.

  3. Hi, Playa del Carmen was nice place even few years ago but my last experience on March 2012 was quite bad because of drugs... If you go to any nightclub toilet even toilet cleaners sniffing and proposing to try... I love mexican people and I feel sadeness when see how US, the biggest consumer of drugs in this region, affected lifes of friendly people of South and central America.

    1. My family have been involved in Mexico for over 30 years and I haven't been back since 2002 so it is hard to imagine how it has changed. When I went to Playa as a kid it was a sleepy town with hardly any buildings and had changed a lot by 2002. I was going to come out in February this year and look forward to my next visit.