Mexico probing Acapulco tourist kidnapping report

ACAPULCO, Mexico (Reuters) – Authorities are investigating the reported kidnapping of 20 Mexican tourists in the Pacific Coast resort city of Acapulco, a state official said yesterday.

If confirmed, the incident would be another blow to a renowned beach resort where drug cartel violence has been on the rise in recent years.

Police received a report on Friday that 20 mechanics on vacation from another part of western Mexico were kidnapped on Thursday afternoon, said Fernando Monreal, a top investigator with the attorney general’s office in Guerrero state, where Acapulco is located.

The victims were taken in an upscale area near the main tourist strip of hotels, shops and discos along the beach, according to the report filed by a man who said he was part of the group and had seen his friends abducted.

He provided police with a list of names and a description of the cars in which the group arrived, but has since disappeared, Monreal said.

“It is very probable that he went back to where he was from,” Monreal said by telephone. “We are looking for evidence. The information is very thin.”

The visitors were said to be from the western state of Michoacan, Monreal said, another flash point in Mexico’s drug war and home to a drug gang that has been fighting to gain control of the region around Acapulco.

“There are groups that are fighting for these positions. There perhaps could have been some mix-up,” said Monreal.
Since government troops killed cartel kingpin Arturo Beltran Leyva last December, rival factions of his organization have been battling for control in the Pacific tourist city.

Mexico’s tourism industry is a major source of foreign exchange and there are fears that rising drug violence could further damage the sector, following drop-offs after the H1N1 flu outbreak last year and the global economic downturn.
More than 29,000 people have died in drug violence across Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched his army-led attack on drug cartels when he took office in late 2006.

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