For years Guerrero state, where Acapulco sits, has ranked among the Mexican states with the highest homicide rates, a crime statistic regularly used by officials and analysts when discussing the overall security situation. Last year Guerrero had more reported gun murders than any other state in Mexico, more than 1,600, according to a federal government tally released last month.

"While places like Ciudad Juarez have become safer, other places in the country have seen violence spike up," said Christopher Wilson, an associate at the Washington-based Mexico Institute. "Acapulco is one of the areas, and in fact, the entire state of Guerrero is one of the places, where there's been more violence recently."

It's unclear whether Mexico has turned a corner, Wilson said, but the fact that cities like Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana have seen violence drop gives some hope for the future.

"If they can turn things around, then there's no reason why every other city in Mexico can't do the same thing," Wilson said. "We now have success stories, which we couldn't say three years ago."