Safety in Playa Mujeres: Assessing the Risk from Mexican Cartels

Playa Mujeres and Isla Mujeres, popular tourist destinations in Mexico, is known for its pristine beaches and luxurious resorts.

However, travelers may have concerns about their safety due to the presence of cartels in Mexico.

In this article, we will discuss the local cartels, their activities in Playa Mujeres, and assess the relative risk for tourists and visitors.

Understanding Mexican Cartels

1. Brief Overview of Mexican Cartels

Mexican cartels, also known as “carteles” in Spanish, are powerful criminal organizations that have been involved in various illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking, and extortion [1].

Cartels often engage in violent conflicts with one another and with law enforcement, resulting in a high level of violence in some regions of Mexico [2].

2. Local Cartels Near Playa & Isla Mujeres

The two primary cartels that operate in the state of Quintana Roo, where Playa Mujeres is located, are the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Gulf Cartel [3].

These cartels compete for control over lucrative drug trafficking routes and local criminal markets, which can lead to violent confrontations [3].

Cartel Activity Around Cancun & Playa Mujeres

1. Low Levels Of Cartel-Related Violence

Playa Mujeres is considered to be relatively safe from cartel-related violence.

The area is known for its upscale resorts and exclusive atmosphere, and it is situated far from the main urban centers where cartel activity is more prevalent [4].

While there have been incidents of violence in the broader region, including Cancun, these incidents typically do not target tourists and are focused on rival cartels or local criminal elements [5].

2. Efforts To Ensure Safety

To maintain the safety of the area and protect the thriving tourism industry, local authorities and hoteliers have taken several measures, including increased security and police presence [6].

This has helped to ensure that Playa Mujeres remains a safe and peaceful destination for visitors.

General Safety In & Around Isla & Playa Mujeres

As mentioned in a previous article, Playa Mujeres is considered a safe destination for tourists. Crime rates are low, and most visitors enjoy a trouble-free stay.

However, it is always essential to take precautions, such as not leaving valuables unattended, being cautious at night, and using reputable transportation options.

Assessing The Risk For Tourists & Visitors

1. Relative Risk From Cartel Activity

The risk of cartel-related violence affecting tourists in Playa Mujeres is relatively low.

While it is essential to be aware of the situation, the majority of incidents occur away from tourist areas and do not target visitors [5].

Additionally, the increased security measures in place help to maintain the safety of the area.

General safety precautions while travelling in Cancun (Image credit: Freepik)

2. General Safety Precautions

To ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Playa Mujeres, travelers should follow general safety guidelines, such as:

  1. Staying within the resort areas and avoiding remote or poorly lit locations at night [6].
  2. Avoiding displays of wealth or leaving valuables unattended.
  3. Using reputable transportation options and booking excursions through trusted providers.
  4. Following the advice of local authorities and staying informed about any safety alerts or travel advisories.

While the presence of cartels in Mexico can be a cause for concern, Playa Mujeres is considered a safe destination for tourists, with a low risk of cartel-related violence.

By taking general safety precautions and staying informed, visitors can enjoy a relaxing and worry-free vacation in this beautiful part of Mexico.


[1] Beittel, J. S. (2021). Mexico: Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking Organizations. Congressional Research Service.
[2] BBC News. (2018). Mexico’s most-wanted: A guide to the drug cartels.
[3] InSight Crime. (2021). Quintana Roo Profile.
[4] Playa Mujeres. (n.d.). About Playa Mujeres.
[5] U.S. Department of State. (2021). Mexico Travel Advisory.
[6] El Economista. (2019). Refuerzan seguridad en Playa Mujeres ante alerta de viaje de EU.