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US releases security alert but Mexican government says nothing yet verified

Cancun, Q.R. — While the US releases a security alert for ferry use in Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, the Mexican government says that the devices found, which prompted the US alert, are still with investigators and have yet to be verified.

In response to the US security alert, the Secretariat of Tourism of Quintana Roo issued a statement clarifying that the island of Cozumel is one of the most important destinations in the state and does not represent any risk to visitors arriving by sea or air.

The State Attorney General’s Office continues to investigate the cause of the explosion of a Barcos Caribe ferry February 21. Since that explosion, the discovery of artifacts have been located on an out-of-service ferry that was anchored 500 meters from Cozumel shores for the last 10 months.

Yet, the Embassy of the United States in Mexico City published an alert in their Travel Advisory for Mexico, stating:

On March 1, undetonated explosive devices were found by Mexican law enforcement on a tourist ferry that operates between Cozumel-Playa del Carmen, Mexico.  On February 21, an explosive device detonated on a tourist ferry in Playa del Carmen resulting in injuries, including to U.S. citizens. U.S. Government employees are prohibited from using all tourist ferries on this route until further notice. Mexican and U.S. law enforcement continue to investigate.

The Secretariat of Tourism of Quintana Roo released an official statement saying, “Although some incidents have been reported, all of which have been related to the same company and the last of which involving artifacts, it should be noted that this boat was outside of the commercial service for more than 10 months and was docked several hundred meters from any dock.

“We are waiting for the results of official investigation. The incidents are related exclusively to the affected shipping line, which no longer provides commercial service.”

The State Attorney General’s Office continues to work with the Ministry of the Navy and National Defense to determine what was found tied to the bottom of the anchored ferry. Government official Miguel Ángel Pech Cen explained, “Once the test data is released, we are able to rule out specific situations.”

On March 1, a diver found two devices tied to the bottom of an out-of-service Barcos Caribe boat, a discovery that quickly spread through social media as being alleged explosives.

According to a police report, employees of the Cozumel company knew nothing of the devices, but had read reports on social media claiming explosives were found. They then turned to local police to report what was being circulated through social media.

Divers from the Mexican Navy have removed the two white tubes from the bottom of the ferry and handed them over to National Defense to determine whether or not the tubes are explosive devices. The state prosecutor said, “As far as we understand they are not. We have to discard the explosive term, however, it is up to the corresponding authorities to issue the final opinion.”

However, other reactions have occurred including cruise ships cancelling shore excursions that require ferry service from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen.

The March 1 US security alert posted on the US Embassy website is specifically aimed toward its employees, not its citizens.