Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board Deems Hotel Zone Safe in Wake of Kidnapping

Those involved in the Monday morning incident were cartel members, officials believe

Following a dramatic armed kidnapping at an upscale restaurant in Puerto Vallarta's hotel zone, the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board is reassuring visitors that the incident did not involve or affect any tourists.

According to authorities, five armed men arrived at La Leche restaurant shortly after 1 a.m. Monday and abducted 10 to 12 suspected gang members who were at the restaurant celebrating. Many luxury items were left behind, and a number of luxury vehicles remained in the restaurant parking lot afterward, at least one of which had a false registration.

There was sufficient evidence in the vehicles and according to witnesses, said Jalisco state prosecutor Eduardo Almaguer in a press conference, to believe that those abducted were from a criminal organization based outside the state of Jalisco. The incident appeared to be a case of one criminal organization kidnapping members of another, said Almaguer, but he did not name the organizations. 

Both the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board and Jalisco Governor Aristoteles Sandoval assured visitors and residents that security in the destination was being reinforced and that federal, state and municipal security forces were investigating the incident. A search is underway for those responsible and for those abducted.

Because the abductees were from an organization from another region, the Tourism Board pointed out, the incident is likely an isolated case. "As representatives of the tourism community of Puerto Vallarta, a city recognized by the warmth of its people and the ease with which visitors enjoy the destination's diverse offerings, we do not tolerate violence of any kind," said Agustín Álvarez, general director of the Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board. "We are following the instructions by the different government authorities and encourage the community to do the same, as well as to pay attention to information and facts solely communicated by the authorities in charge, in order to dispel false rumors and avoid confusion that does not represent the actual situation in Puerto Vallarta and ensure we do not compromise the security of our residents and tourists." 

All tourism services and attractions in the city are open and fully operational. "We hope that this isolated and unprecedented event has minimal impact in our city," reads a statement from the Tourism Board. "We are committed to proactively providing accurate information from official sources in a timely manner in order to keep our industry, residents and travelers informed, safe and well taken care of at all times."