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Drug war intrudes on Mexico's coastal resorts

The arrest of a top drug cartel chief in Cancún comes a week after a deadly shootout killed 16 alleged cartel members and two soldiers in Acapulco.

Guillermo Arias/AP

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Most vacationers to Mexico's coastal resort towns prefer not to be bothered. They might turn off their cellphones and shun nightly newscasts to escape into beach days that blur into one another.

But lately, the reality of the nation's brutal drug war keeps intruding.

The Mexican military announced on Sunday that a local leader of the powerful Gulf Cartel, Juan Manuel Jurado Zarzoza, was arrested Friday in Cancún, where tourists frolicking in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean share space with an important corridor for illegal drugs headed from South America to the US. The Army says that Mr. Jurado Zarzoza ordered extortions and kidnappings in the Cancún area.

The arrest follows a deadly shootout in Mexico's other iconic resort town the weekend before. In Acapulco, best known for its sprawling bay and daring cliff divers, 18 were killed after soldiers faced off against drug gangs.

Mexico's tourist industry has been on the defensive. The increased violence – nearly 11,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared war on drug gangs in late 2006 – has led to US advisories detailing "large firefights" in patches of the country.

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