The bodies of eight people were found dumped in the Mexican resort of Cancun, one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations, authorities said Tuesday.
The bodies were discovered over the weekend about 10 miles from Cancun’s beach and hotel zone after police launched a coordinated effort to search for missing people in wooded lots and even sinkhole ponds, also known as cenotes, Mexican authorities said.
Oscar Montes de Oca, the head prosecutor of the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo said five of the bodies were found at an abandoned construction site. Three were subsequently identified as previously reported missing people.
Three sets of skeletal remains were discovered at a separate site in a wooded area on the outskirts of Cancun near a poor neighborhood, close to the resort’s airport, authorities said. They have not yet been identified.
Montes de Oca said authorities estimated the bodies were dumped there between one week and two months ago.
According to the government, more than 112,000 people are listed as missing throughout the country. While crimes are more common in other areas of the country, Cancun and other resorts were typically regarded as safe travel destinations.
Drug cartels have begun disposing of the bodies of their victims in clandestine body dumping grounds, especially as several cartels fight for control of the Caribbean coast and its drug trade.
Authorities carried out similar searches in Felipe Carrillo Puerto, which is about 140 miles south of Cancun.
Volunteers, including the relatives of missing people, assisted investigators in the searches. Search dogs were also used.
Earlier this month, four men were killed in Cancun following a dispute related to drug gang activity. The dead men were found in the city’s hotel zone near the beach.
A U.S. tourist was also shot in the leg in the nearby town of Puerto Morelos in March.
Cancun remains the top destination for Americans vacationing in Mexico.
The U.S. State Department issued travel guidance last month that warns travelers to “exercise increased caution,” especially near resorts like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum anytime after dark.
In 2022, two Canadians were killed in Playa del Carmen, which is about 40 miles south of Cancun.
In 2021, in the town of Tulum — about 80 miles south of Cancun — two foreign tourists including one American and one German were killed when they were apparently caught by gunfire from rival drug dealers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.