Playa del Carmen, Q.R. – Organized crime is a common complaint among legitimate business owners along Playa’s popular Fifth Avenue shopping street.
The street, which stretches more than 2.5 kilometers and home to hundreds of restaurants, boutique shops, clubs and pubs, hotels and tour kiosks, remains a common target for those involved in organized crime. Business owners along the lengthy stretch of street have filed numerous complaints with local authorities saying this type of crime is very damaging to Playa as a destination.
They say that many of the smaller shop owners are seen harassing passersby and they have grown tired of the unfair competition, extortion and ‘due payments’, not to mention having to deal with constant drug sales on the street.
One of the most voiced complaints is the lack of organization among business kiosks. Those who pay dues to use a standardized portion of the sidewalk for business say that many smaller tianguis do not pay, but openly use the sidewalk and often go beyond the guideline of the 1.4 and 2.4 meter boundary of their storefronts to showcase their products.
In the last two years, the disorder of businesses along the popular shopping area has climaxed and aggravated many business owners who say that municipal authorities ‘tolerate’ the violations of smaller shops and kiosks because of organized crime.
They also say that the businesses along the street have, in many instances, been reduced to information booths, tables and even pirated silver shops that all operate without proper licenses because they are protected by organized crime.
Trade settlers on Fifth Avenue are demanding that federal, state and municipal authorities fulfill their obligation to combat this level of crime and reinstate order to prevent jeopardizing the largest tourist destination in the country.
According to estimates from the intelligence of the federal authorities, organized crime is collecting about 3 million pesos per month along the 2.5 kilometer shopping street from leasing space for tables and illegal kiosks to sell different products.