Authorities Try to Control Cancun Looting

Will Weissert, AP, Oct. 24

CANCUN, Mexico—Troops and federal police moved in Monday to quell looting at stores and shopping centers ripped open by Hurricane Wilma, while hunger and frustration mounted among residents and tourists stranded in one of Mexico’s most prosperous resorts.

An Associated Press reporter watched hundreds of people empty entire downtown blocks of merchandise Sunday, hiding when soldiers appeared, then returning to tear down metal shutters and haul off clothing, appliances and anything else they could find.

Police shot in the air to scare away looters, and some crowds responded by throwing rocks and chunks of concrete. Officers evacuated more than 30 foreigners from one area overrun by looters, fearing the mobs might turn on tourists.

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On Monday, federal troops and police threw up checkpoints to look for stolen goods and sent out patrols to chase crowds away from shops. More than 200 people were reported arrested.

Looting seemed to be stopped, but many stores were already stripped bare.

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“The hurricane was ugly. The people were worse,” said Arturo Campos, whose shoe store was cleaned out by thieves.

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