Army march into holiday resort

Click to follow

The popular resort city of Cancun on Mexico’s Caribbean coast is under an unprecedented military clampdown after the kidnap, torture and murder of a retired army general days after he had been brought in to combat drug-related violence.

Brigadier-General Mauro Enrique Tello Quinones was ambushed in his car with an aide and his driver west of the city. Their bodies were found hours later; the general had both arms and legs broken, and was shot in the head. Now large numbers of heavily armed troops have been deployed to the Cancun area, setting up checkpoints and roadblocks. General Tello, 63, retired in January after a long, controversial career.

He had been asked to set up an elite anti-drugs squad in Cancun. Among those at his funeral was President Felipe Calderon, whose campaign against the drug cartels in Mexico has unleashed a wave of violence, killing more than 5,300 people.

Most deaths have been in the northern border cities such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, where police have been largely supplanted by troops. But violence has also erupted in Acapulco, the tourist haven, and in the capital. Last May, Edgar Millan, the acting chief of the federal police, was assassinated outside his flat in Mexico City. With the government and the cartels locked in combat, and the cartels at war with each other, it is hard to see how the violence can end.

Impeding Mr Calderon’s efforts to stop the bloodshed is corruption in law enforcement. And Mexico cannot remove itself from the flow of cocaine from Colombia and Peru to consumers in the United States. At risk also is the tourist industry. Cancun has been spared the worst of the carnage – until now.