Local authorities are set to meet after the latest Mongrel Mob take-over of the top of Te Mata Peak Rd for their initiation 'patching ceremonies'.

The road to the top of what is one of Hawke's Bay's most popular local and visitor attractions was closed on Saturday for several hours by police.

New Zealand is far from developing a reputation for being a dangerous place to visit, but our gangs do attract international headlines.

The Mongrel Mob has come under fire for its use of Te Mata Peak, Hawke's Bay, for what is being described as "initiation" ceremonies.

It certainly has not gone unnoticed that our humble little country is believed to have one of the highest rates of gang membership in the world.

Te Mata Peak was swarmed by a large crowd of Mongrel Mob members from a number of different chapters. Photo / Facebook
Te Mata Peak was swarmed by a large crowd of Mongrel Mob members from a number of different chapters. Photo / Facebook

Unsurprisingly, the interests of homegrown gangs and tourism typically don't meld, much to the dismay of the governments of the countries arguably better known for their murders than their attractions.

Here's five destinations where organised crime and tourism collide, with some unexpected results.

Cancún, Mexico

Fourteen people were murdered in just 36 hours in the Mexican city of Cancun in a 2018 incident that made headlines around the world.

All the murders are considered to have been cartel-related but they were dangerously close to popular tourist hotspots.

Despite this, visitors are still willing to take their chances for a shot of Cancún's majestic Caribbean beaches.

Just this week, an Iraq war veteran died at a Cancun resort after a balcony fall. Artem Moskovkin's family believe his death was not suspicious, but they are gutted by what happened after the man was injured.

In the aftermath of the accident, his family didn't know whether to believe the short message they received from the hospital.

"[The message] said 'Hey your brother is in the hospital, we need 8,000 dollars to do anything.' So his brothers didn't know if it was a scam or the real thing," Igor Sapego, Artem's friend who was holidaying with him, said.


Without the immediate payment, Sapego said Moskovkin was transferred to a public hospital, where a day later he died. "If they would have done something immediately, I think he would have still been alive," Sapego said.

L.A, United States of America

Only in America.

Established in 2010, L.A. Hood Life Tours provides a unique experience through the colourful streets of South Central Los Angeles passing famous movie locations and landmarks.

For $65 organisers promise a chance to "experience areas that were forbidden until now."

"It was great to be taken around all of the places you're curious about, but not willing to go to yourself, including East LA and Compton. We saw the projects, the childhood homes of Dr Dre and Easy E, and the site where Nipsy Hussle was recently shot dead," a typical review reads.

Tour guide Alfred Lomas used to be part of the Florencia 13 gang, but he has since turned his life around.

Still, Lomas isn't afraid to use the supposed danger of the tour as a marketing tactic, encouraging passengers to get their picture taken with the ex-gang members he recruits for his tours.

"If you take a Hollywood tour, you'll probably see Brad Pitt's house, but you'll never really get a chance to take a picture with Brad Pitt," Lomas told NPR. "Here, you have an opportunity to take pictures, to meet and interface with individuals that are influential in their gang communities but have made that effort to change."

Some say L.A. Hood Life Tours amounts to exploitation. As some have put it, this is "ghettotainment." Lomas responded to criticism by removing the housing projects from his tours.

"Everybody says we are the gang capital of the world, and that is certainly true, no denying that," said the Rev. Gregory Boyle to the New York Times, who has spent decades trying to steer people out of gangs into legitimate work. "It's hard to gloss over that. But there are two extremes we always need to avoid. One is demonising the gang member, and the other extreme is romanticising the gang."

And yes, tourists' photos are about as cringey as you would expect.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil has the dubious honour of breaking its own record for the number of murders in a single year after the South American country saw 63,880 people slain in 2017.

Carnivale draws hundreds of thousands of tourists to Rio each year, but it also draws in less savoury people hunting for easy targets. Guides claim you shouldn't be put off from visiting Rio during Carnivale as you can protect yourself by making good decisions about where you stay and what you do while you're there.

In general, cheaper lodging areas are less well-lit and have fewer police on patrol. The extra costs associated with a more up-market stay may be worth the extra security. When going out in public during Carnivale, make certain to avoid wearing any conspicuous items, such as watches, jewellery , or cameras. Snatch and run crime is still the most common mishap to befall visitors.

Acapulco, Mexico

Acapulco was once the playground of the rich and famous, but its beaches are now patrolled by Mexican policemen.

In April Acapulco hosted a four-day tourism conference with a mission to show the world that this gorgeous city is safe for travellers, but they did so by skirting the issue. Security was not on the agenda, even though at the same time as their opening reception, a tourist from California was shot dead over dinner several miles away.

The city depicted at the conference, according to the Daily Beast, was so magnificent that the guests might overlook one minor catch— that Acapulco has the second highest homicide rate in the world.

One Philadelphia resident who has holidayed in Acapulco with his wife since the 1970s, was staying at the popular Condesa Beach when he noticed police and crowds of people massing on the shore.

"This dead guy was floating out there in the bay and they just let him drift back in," said Fey. "They said he drowned, but I believe he drowned with holes in him."

Despite 874 murders in 2018 and more than 200 already in 2019, the Mexican tourism industry apparently thinks that they have a communication problem, not a murder problem.

Trinidad and Tobago, Caribbean

Crime is the principal threat to visitors to Trinidad and Tobago although most are crimes of opportunity. While not common during daylight hours, visitors fall victim to pickpocketing, assault, robbery, theft, fraud and murder.

The Trinidad and Tobago government claims there is no evidence to indicate that foreigners, particularly expatriates, are specifically targeted, but robbery, break-ins/burglary, home invasions and assaults including sexual assaults do occur in areas frequented by tourists and in which the expatriate community lives.

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Keith Rowley, is frustrated by the number of tourists murdered in recent years.

"I'm disappointed when we put so much effort into trying to make the place attractive to visitors and then some idiot goes and does something like that and undo everything we have it. It now gives the place a name we don't want."

Still want to go? Travelers are advised to not resist any robbery attempt. Statistics show that victims who resist are more likely to be injured or even killed by their attackers.