Crime and Violence · Human Rights and Civil Society

Acapulco in the international media’s spotlight

The rape of six Spanish tourists in Acapulco in early February at the resort seen here has helped catapult the city into the international media's spotlight. Photo: Jesus Espinosa, EFE, Zuma Press
The rape of six Spanish tourists in Acapulco in early February at the resort seen here has helped catapult the city into the international media’s spotlight. Photo: Jesus Espinosa, EFE, Zuma Press

02/19/13 – While in the past, the seaside city of Acapulco, Guerrero, used to be synonymous with beaches and tourism, this has changed as of late. Presently the city has become widely known as one of the new violent hotspots in the ongoing war between organized crime and the Mexican federal government, resulting in the growing number of homicides. The sexual assault of six foreign tourists on February 4, have not helped matters as the city’s violent climate has become widely reported at a global scale and subsequently brought Acapulco to the international media’s attention. Municipal, state, and even federal authorities have tried to stress the ongoing nature of the conflict and how they are trying everything within their power to improve security in the city.

Acapulco has experienced a growing homicide rate since the beginning of the Mexican government’s war on drugs in 2006, changing the tourist destination into what many consider one of the most dangerous cities in the world. After the recent sexual assault of the six Spanish citizens, media sources began to quote a report published by the Mexico City based Consejo Cuidadano para la Seguridad Pública y Justicia Penal think-tank that claims that Acapulco is the second most dangerous city in the world, thus giving context to crime. According to their calculation that takes only into account official and media sources, Acapulco experienced 1,170 homicides in 2012, with a rate of 142.88 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. This in turn has brought criticism to the Consejo Cuidadano report from local authorities in Acapulco, who have been accused by media sources of trying to downplay the importance of the recent sexual assault and the current violent climate of the city.

Due to the ongoing media interest in Acapulco, recent local and federal government responses to the recent sexual assault have been swift and heavy-handed, resulting in the arrest of six suspects who have confessed to their involvement in the crime. Some sources have reported that said confessions might be unreliable, as government officials have used force in the past to extract information. Guerrero Governor Ángel Aguirre downplays the possibility that the arrested suspects are scapegoats and claims the officers involved in their arrest and confessions acted legally and professionally. Federal and local authorities have increased the city’s military and police officers present in an attempt to convince the public that they will do everything in their power to fix Acapulco’s current violent climate.

The Trans-Border Institute recently published its own report, Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis Through 2012,” that reports on the ongoing violence spike in Acapulco. The report finds that 1,170 people were killed in Acapulco in 2012, and explains in detail the climb in homicide that has resulted in a rate of 148 per 100,000 inhabitants of the municipality. To read the report in its entirety, click here.


CCSPJP. “San Pedro Sula otra vez la cuidad más violenta del mundo; Acapulco, la segunda.” February 7, 2013.

Agren, David. “Mexico gang rape deals a blow to Acapulco’s hopes.” The Star. February 8, 2013.

“Honduran city is world murder capital; Juarez drops for second year in a row.” Fox News Latino. February 8, 2013.

Cascante, Manuel M. “Un país con 120.000 violaciones al año,  trece cada hora.” February 10, 2013.

Solera, Claudia. “Turistas vacacionan entre federales y fusiles.” Excélsior. February 10, 2013.

Associated Press. “Mexico arrests six men over Acapulco rape of Spanish tourists.” The Guardian. February 14, 2013.

Molzahn et. al. “Drug Violence in Mexico: Data and Analysis through 2012.″ Trans-Border Institute.  February 2013.

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