Published On: Sun, Apr 16th, 2017

Chicago students and their parents were caught in the middle of a turf dispute in Cancun

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According to WGN Chicago, a group of suburban high school students from the “Windy City” and their families felt like they were being held hostage when they found themselves in the middle of a spring break stand-off in Cancun, Quintana Roo.

“We booked a vacation through the Dreams hotel and it wound up being a nightmare,” parent Sherri Adams told WGN Investigates.

Adams was part of a group of nearly 70 Hinsdale Central High School students, parents and siblings who went on a senior year spring vacation trip to Cancun in March. This vacation was not coordinated by the high school.

Problems popped up soon after they booked an evening excursion to Señor Frogs. They chartered several vans through Amstar, a company with sales representatives in the hotel lobby. As the group departed the hotel and exited a second security gate that protects the resort area, they say their vehicles were surrounded.


“All of a sudden there are 50 cabs blocking us in – stopped in front of us – they’re not letting us go,” said parent Donna Mittelstadt. Parents say the cabbies had machetes in their hands and immediately began threatening the group.

“I looked out the window and actually watched these cab drivers slashing the tires with machetes,” Adams recalled. A witness said panic set in on the vans and several kids were crying.

Taxi drivers surrounded the vans (Photo taken by parents outside Dreams Cancun posted by

Parents used their cells phones to call police and the hotel. But the stand-off didn’t end for 45 minutes. At one point drivers locked the families in the vans. They say they saw police officers sharing cigarettes with the cab drivers before allowing the taxis to leave. Cancun police are investigating the incident, but have not said whether anyone was arrested or charges were filed.

Cancun Taxi drivers punctured van tires with machetes (Photo taken by parents outside Dreams Cancun posted by

The Hinsdale group would later learn they had found themselves in the middle of a turf war. It’s ensnared other Cancun visitors as well. Last year a tourist from Canada posted on Trip Advisor: “We were held captive for a half hour… as they argued over who should be driving us back.” In both cases, travelers say police responded but didn’t do much.

The students and their parents were held “hostages” for 30 minutes (Photo taken by parents outside Dreams Cancun, posted by

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