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‘Ironclad’ security to be installed at Caribbean boat terminals

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Photo: Punto Medio

Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo — Catching a ferry will be a little tougher starting now.

Mexican authorities on Thursday announced plans to reinforce security at the country’s Caribbean ports and docks after an explosion ripped apart a tourist ferry in February.

Every Caribbean port will be rendered “ironclad” using security systems similar to the ones used in airports, said Alicia Ricalde Magaña, head of the state port authority.

Measures will include the monitoring of passenger lists and the installation of metal detectors, facial recognition technology and baggage handling facilities, as well as the deployment of 60 police officers from “Operation Titan” at the Cozumel and Playa del Carmen docks, said port authority manager Guillermo Renteria Zuñiga.

The Feb. 21 blast injured at least 24 people, including several from the United States, and spurred a U.S. State Department travel alert. The ferry that connected Cozumel and Playa del Carmen has ties to a former state governor who is being held on fraud charges.

The alert was later rolled back, but government employees are still barred from ferries.

A crude unexploded bomb was found on board another ship on March 1, prompting authorities to increase the security level, Ricalde confirmed.

The new security measures are expected to be put in place as soon as this weekend and will be reinforced by federal authorities under a permanent strategy.

The maritime terminals of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel will each have a pair of metal-detector arches and x-ray machines.

Travelers are advised to allow 30 extra minutes to avoid missing a departure.

On land, the U.S. State Department advises spring breakers and other travelers to avoid the Centro, Calica, Gonzalo Guerrero, Quintas del Carmen and Villas del Carmen neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are bordered by Avenida Benito Juarez, 50 Avenida Sur (Highway 307) and Calle 34 Norte.

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