Last year, Acapulco had the highest murder rate in Mexico. In 2014, the murder rate was 104 people per 100,000. What was it in the US? 4.6 people per 100,000. What makes this statistic particularly depressing is that Acapulco had once been Mexico's jewel on the Pacific. Its pristine beaches played host to John and Jacqueline Kennedy on their honeymoon. Frank Sinatra forever immortalized the city in his song, "Come Fly with Me." Acapulco was on the short list of exclusive locales, along with St. Moritz, Marbella, Palm Beach and Monte Carlo, on the jet set travel circuit. The sumptuously appointed Las Brisas Hotel was built both to accommodate the who's who of international society (for those who did not already own lavish villas) and to house the mistresses of rich Mexican bankers.
Acapulco has always been important. It was New Spain's most important port. Twice a year, since 1565, the Manila Galleon brought porcelain, silk, ivory, and spices from China, via Manila, to Acapulco in exchange for Mexican silver. But it was still just a fishing village. Then, in the 1920s and 30s, Mexico City's elite discovered the untouched beaches and perfect weather and started coming in droves (just the rich though, they were the only ones that could afford the trek). It helped that King Edward VIII (the Prince of Wales) gave the place his stamp of approval. Then came the jet set (so named because they were the only ones that could afford pre-deregulation air travel)...and the artists. Diego Rivera spent his last days---not his last last day, he died in Mexico City---painting some of his most colorful work at the home of his-not-lover-but-she-totally-was, Dolores Olmedo. It was in the 1950s that Hollywood came knocking. Elizabeth Taylor married her third husband there. The Rat Pack were frequent visitors.
In 1965, the now defunct Braniff Airlines, started nonstop flights from Dallas to Acapulco. Although Acapulco became more accessible to the masses, it was still a place for the great and good. The city was also very much cool and happening. Local legend says that the seaside resort was the first places to have a discotheque. It was also a place where politicians would get into trouble. Henry Kissinger got a lot of flack for spending more time there than in Washington.
Little by little, however, the city became overcrowded. The enlargement of the highway from Mexico City brought even more tourists. Other cities soon became more popular with vacation goers: Cabo San Lucas, Manzanillo, and (of course) Cancun. The Mexican elite, with their gated communities and 24 hour security still preferred Acapulco, however. It is, after all, next to what is arguably the most beautiful bay in Mexico. Ironically, it is their presence that probably caused much of the bloodshed. The drug lords want, and usually can buy, what old monied Mexican high society have. So you obviously need a villa in Acapulco. And, obviously, that is where one goes if one wants to kill a drug lord.