Yes, it is serious.
The ongoing violence between rival narcotrafficking gangs and between gangs and police has increased dramatically. Some U.S. officials are even calling Mexico a "failed state," much to the chagrin of Mexican leaders. This violence has been largely confined to the northern tier of states: Chihuahua, Sonora, and Nuevo Leon, plus Baja California. There have also been problems in Guerrero (Acapulco) and Quintana Roo (Cancun). The victims have largely been police, military officers, political officials, and drug gang members.
The most recent incidents in Cancun went like this: The federal government sent in a retired Army general to clean up the narcotrafficking in Cancun. The bad guys KIDNAPPED THE GENERAL and members of his guard, tortured and assassinated him. The Army, in return, came into town, surrounded the Cancun Police Department, and arrested the chief of police, who they accuse of being involved. The mayor replaced the police chief with a woman (the gangs, however, have not respected gender or age, killing woman and kids in the past). Then, the head of the local prison was arrested, also for being involved with the drug gangs.
In Chihuahua, yesterday, the state governor's motorcade was attacked, with one person killed. To date, there have been something like 5,300 drug-related murders in the last year throughout Mexico. Ciudad Juarez is the most dangerous town in the country. There, the drug gangs threatened the police chief, that if he didn't step down, they would assassinate one cop every 48 hours. He stepped down. Also the mayor of Ciudad Juarez was also threatened unless he steps down. He moved himself and his family across the border to El Paso, Texas.
Today's headline in the Diario de Yucatan is: Next Step, An Intense Fight.
Here is a link to the Houston Chronicle's story about crime in Cancun:
The crime wave ISN'T everywhere, even though it is widespread. Here in Merida (and also in Campeche), it's perfectly quiet. Even with the craziness of Carnaval time this last week, no crime reported. Personally, I feel comfortable here. At any time that I don't, I will leave. But right now, the city is filled with tourists and all is well.