HomeNewsSicarios of the Sea - Gunmen Ride Jet Skis in Mexico
NEWS

Sicarios of the Sea - Gunmen Ride Jet Skis in Mexico

HOMICIDES / 7 FEB 2022 BY SCOTT MISTLER-FERGUSON EN

Stopping near their target, one of the criminals stays on the vehicle while the other jumps off, shoots the victim and leaps back on as they speed away. But in Mexico, the classic image of assassins on motorcycles is being replaced by a new mode of transportation: the jet ski.

On January 25, an Argentine citizen was murdered on a beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, by two suspects who fled the scene on a jet ski. This was the third such attack in recent months and marked a resurgence since the tactic was first reported back in 2016.

According to Clarín, the two hitmen shot the manager of a popular beach resort in the hotel bathroom before fleeing to the beach. A video displays the men boarding a jet ski moments later and escaping along the coastline.

The assassination comes on the heels of a December 2021 attack in nearby Cancún, another tourist hotspot. Three men reportedly arrived at Playa Langosta on jet skis before opening fire on a crowded beach in broad daylight. No injuries or deaths were reported from the attack.

SEE ALSO: In the Riviera Maya, Cartel Extortion Schemes Know No Limits

Several months prior, two local vendors were killed at Playa Tortuga, Cancún, with an American woman injured in the crossfire. El Economista reported similar methods from the most recent killing, with two individuals arriving and fleeing aboard a jet ski.

The shootings follow an analogous cluster of murders in Mexico's former tourism haven, Acapulco. Four such attacks occurred in 2016 amidst a broader wave of unceasing violence.

"This is not really new, jet skis were used earlier (than 2016) in smuggling operations. Beach assaults will continue as long as trafficking and street-level sales occur in contested beach markets," said John P. Sullivan, founder and editor of Small Wars Journal-El Centro, in an interview with InSight Crime.

InSight Crime Analysis

The choice to employ jet skis in hit-and-run jobs provides several benefits to criminal organizations. Offering an element of surprise, they allow the perpetrators to strike quickly on tourist beaches where victims would not typically suspect they are in danger.

Several jet ski assassinations borrow from the classic land strategy of having one shooter and one driver atop a motorcycle. Though attacks by water force the gunmen to disembark and wade to shore, they still deliver the rapidity of a motorcycle attack with the added benefit of leaving the police stranded.

SEE ALSO: Coronavirus and Crime - Lethal Combo for Mexico's Riviera Maya

Furthermore, as getaway vehicles, jet skis allow for an escape from the crime scene with hitherto unheard-of efficiency. As seen in the latest killing, hitmen can simply hop aboard the waiting craft and disappear from the shoreline, where they are far harder for law enforcement to track.

While such modus operandi had previously been limited to the shores of Acapulco, in recent months, jet ski assassinations have occurred in several locations along Mexico's Riviera Maya. Such expanded modalities of attack shed light on the fall of Mexico's historically safer areas.

It has also left authorities struggling to catch up, with no arrests of jet ski gunmen recorded to date. "The best tactical intervention (against jet skis) is to monitor the shorefront and adjacent waters for potential amphibious threats. This can be achieved by using maritime patrols in high-risk areas," explained Sullivan.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

MEXICO / 8 AUG 2012

A new report provides another strong argument against Mexico's use of military to fight organized crime. However, like earlier investigations…

HOMICIDES / 21 APR 2014

The UN's latest homicide report paints a bleak picture of the security situation in the Americas, where some battered governments…

HONDURAS / 9 JUL 2014

Honduras authorities detained two Mexican pilots as they attempted to take off from a commercial airport with the help of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela Drug Trafficking Investigation and InDepth Gender Coverage

29 APR 2022

On May 4, InSight Crime will be publishing The Cocaine Revolution in Venezuela, a groundbreaking investigation into how the Venezuelan government regulates the cocaine trade in the country. An accompanying event,…

THE ORGANIZATION

InDepth Coverage of Juan Orlando Hernández

22 APR 2022

Ever since Juan Orlando Hernández was elected president of Honduras in 2014, InSight Crime has provided coverage of every twist and turn during his rollercoaster time in office, amid growing…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela's Cocaine Revolution

15 APR 2022

On May 4th, InSight Crime will publish a groundbreaking investigation on drug trafficking in Venezuela. A product of three years of field research across the country, the study uncovers cocaine production in…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Widespread Coverage of InSight Crime MS13 Investigation

8 APR 2022

In a joint investigation with La Prensa Gráfica, InSight Crime recently revealed that four of the MS13’s foremost leaders had been quietly released from…

THE ORGANIZATION

Informing US State Department and European Union

1 APR 2022

InSight Crime Co-director McDermott briefed the US State Department and other international players on the presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela and the implication this has for both nations.  McDermott…