Six Spanish women were raped overnight on February 4 by a gang of armed men at a beach near Acapulco, one of Mexico’s resort cities. The victims were bound and tied by their own bikinis. The rapists were wearing hoods and could not be further identified. Seven Spanish men and an accompanying Mexican woman were also on the scene but did not suffer any sexual violence. However, they were beaten and then bound and gagged with telephone cables, according to a local police spokesman. After the attack, the rape victims were accompanied by local tourism officials to a police station by 7 am, five hours after the tourists’ ordeal began. All of the victims are reportedly under 30 years of age.
The Spanish ministry of foreign affairs has not released the names of the victims in the attack.
The attack occurred at approximately 2 am on February 4 at Bonfil Beach in the Punta Diamante district of Acapulco in the state of Guerrero. The armed men robbed the victims, who were staying in rustic beach bungalows, of their credit cards, mobile phones, electronic tablets and cash, among other property. This was one of the worse incidents of crime directed at tourists in recent memory, which the mayor of Acapulco described as a “very lamentable situation.”
Spanish consular and diplomatic personnel in Mexico are proving assistance to the victims at the Pacific coast resort. Mexico’s prosecutor for sex crimes is looking into the case and has taken evidence from the victims. According to police sources, it appears that the attack was the not the work of organized crime, such as the feared drug cartels that are engaged in an ongoing war with the Mexican military and law enforcement. While drug-related violence is common in the state of Guerrero, Acapulco and its beaches were generally thought to be safe.
Several powerful drug cartels, however, operate in the mountains of Guerrero. For example, there is the Familia Michoacana and their rivals, Los Caballeros Templarios who are engaged in a blood feud over territory. There are also numerous criminal gangs involved in petty drug trafficking and violence. Several months ago, the bullet-riddled bodies of 16 men, some of whom were stripped naked and showed signs of torture, were found in an abandoned van beside a state road. And, in October 2011, 7,000 Mexican troops were deployed in Acapulco in an attempt to restore order.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.