Amid a growing wave of violence seen in recent months off the tourist coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico, the country’s National Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said a security battalion in Tulum, Cancún and Riviera Maya would be created with National Guard agents.

This new security force, also known as Tourist Batallion, is going to work to ensure the safety of over 17 million tourists who annually arrive in the state. It will begin operating on December 1st and will have 1,445 agents.

“This battalion will provide security to the entire tourist area, as the year progresses we will provide you with the tools to do your job, the equipment you need to be able to meet this new mission, and you will also be able to take this model that we will use, here for the first time, this National Guard with its specialty in the tourist area, to carry it out in the main tourist attractions of the Republic,” said the general during the press conference held mid-November.

The general added that, in addition to the battalion, the areas of intelligence and training for agents of the National Guard will be strengthened. To carry out this new security strategy, the government of Quintana Roo gave the armed forces a one-hectare plot of land in Tulum to establish a National Guard facility. The new battalion created under the command of Sedena will bring together the 4,791 state and municipal agents and the 5,300 federal agents who already work in the state.

The creation of this new security battalion in Tulum, Cancún and Riviera Maya comes in a very critical moment in the popular tourist destinations in Mexico. Two weeks ago, a clash between two rival drug gangs left two dead and a climate of panic in Riviera Maya. Days earlier, the body of a man in handcuffs was abandoned in a park in Cancún, and in late October a shootout in a Tulum bar left two foreign tourists, one Indian and one German, dead and three others injured.

According to official data, from January to September this year there were 442 murders, 20 femicides and more than 11 thousand robberies. The municipalities with the highest incidences of crimes are Benito Juárez, Solidaridad, Tulum and Isla Mujeres.

Despite the increase in violence, the number of tourists in the region hasn’t dropped.

Along with the creation of the Tourist Batallion, the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, announced works on the new Tulum airport to improve the logistical infrastructure to receive the expected growing influx of foreign visitors, mostly Americans, over the next years.