LOS CABOS.- Along with the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Odile in Baja California Sur has come a wave of violence and looting. Complaints of the rise in criminality by victims via social media and through family members have surged over the past few days, including accusations that authorities are turning a blind eye to the mayhem.
News has spread throughout social media that residents have had to organize neighborhood watch groups in order to take care of their property and family members in the absence of police action. These messages state that masked criminals enter homes to steal. Many pictures of stores completely sacked have circulated showing employees trying to secure shops from looters using shovels, brooms, or whatever they could get their hands on.
Authorities state that they have dispatched a thousand federal security agents, known as Gendarmería, as well as state troopers, municipal officers, and the Armed Forces to prevent looting and criminality in damaged zones.
This wave of violence only adds on to a difficult situation for Baja California Sur. Citizen complaints indicate that there is no water, gasoline, and some are worried that no aid will arrive until the violence and looting is curtailed.
For now, what is known for sure, is that La Paz has regained electrical service and telephone service. Many victims of the hurricane have traveled to La Paz to wait it out until things are returned to normal in Los Cabos.
Via Twitter, the Secretary of Tourism for the State of Baja California Sur indicated that 5,000 tourists have been evacuated out of the 30,000 present in the region. Thanks to the "air bridge" that was created to transport stranded tourists with the help of northern Baja California, it is anticipated that within the next day or so many more will be able to return home.
The Consulate General of the United States in Tijuana has coordinated on many of these efforts and is asking tourists to go to the San Jose del Cabo airport where the Department of State has set up an agreement with Mexican and foreign airlines to evacuate tourists. Another option is to go to the La Paz airport. Consulate workers are on the ground in the region to help U.S. citizens living in or visitng the region at the time the hurricane struck.