Two dead after gunmen open fire near ritzy, Cancun-area resort


Government forces guard the entrance of hotel after an armed confrontation near Puerto Morelos, Mexico, Thursday, November 4, 2021. Two suspected drug dealers were killed after gunmen from competing gangs staged a dramatic shootout near upscale hotels that sent foreign tourists scrambling for cover. (AP Photo/Karim Torres)

(NEXSTAR) – Two people were shot and killed near an upscale Mexican resort south of Cancun Thursday.

The deadly shooting happened on a beach in Bahia Petempich, Puerto Morelos, according to the Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office.

The two suspected drug dealers killed Thursday had apparently arrived at the beach in front of the Azul Beach Resort and the Hyatt Ziva Cancun, claiming it was now their territory.

“About 15 people arrived on the beach to assassinate two men who had showed up saying they were the new dealers in the area,” the head prosecutor of Quintana Roo state, Oscar Montes de Oca, told the Radio Formula.

Quintana Roo’s secretariat of public security added, “No tourists were seriously hurt, nor kidnapped.”

Puerto Morelos lies about 15 miles south of Cancun along the Caribbean coastline dotted with luxury, beachfront resorts.

Mexican newspaper Milenio reports that an armed group arrived by boat and opened fire, killing two rivals and scattering terrified tourists.

Several cartels are fighting for the area’s lucrative retail drug trade, including the Jalisco cartel and a gang allied with the Gulf cartel.

According to Milenio, one visitor was struck in the head with a firearm and was treated for a minor injury.

Guests at five-star Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun Resort said they were told to shelter in their rooms while security swept the property.

A man named Mike Sington shared photos on Twitter of furniture stacked behind the door of his room as he sheltered in place. An hour later, he posted video of dozens of guests, many wearing only bathing suits, assembled in the lobby as they awaited instructions.

Rival cartels often kill another gang’s street-level dealers in Mexico to eliminate competition and ensure their drugs are sold first. It is not the first time that tourists have been caught in the crossfire of such battles.

The shooting comes two weeks after a California traveler blogger and another foreign tourist were fatally shot in Tulum, which is also in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo.

A San Jose, California, woman born in India, Anjali Ryot, and German citizen Jennifer Henzold were apparently hit by crossfire from the Oct. 20 drug dealers’ shootout in Tulum, south of Puerto Morelos.

Three other foreign tourists were wounded in the shooting at a street-side eatery that has some outdoor tables, right off Tulum’s main strip. They included two German men and a Dutch woman.

The German Foreign Office issued a travel advisory about the violence, advising its citizens, “If you are currently in the Tulum or Playa del Carmen area, do not leave your secured hotel facilities.”

The Tulum gunfight also apparently broke out between two groups that operate street-level drug sales in the area, according to prosecutors.

There have been signs that the situation in Quintana Roo state, where all the resorts are located, was out of control months ago. In June, two men were shot to death on the beach in Tulum and a third was wounded.

And in nearby Playa del Carmen, police staged a massive raid in October on the beach town’s restaurant-lined Quinta Avenida, detaining 26 suspects — most apparently for drug sales — after a city policewoman was shot to death and locked in the trunk of a car. Prosecutors said Friday they have arrested a suspect in that killing.

Crime “has gone up a little with extortion, with drug sales to foreigners and Mexicans,” the prosecutors office said about the raid.

The administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has pinned its hopes on the so-called Maya Riviera, where it has announced plans to build an international airport and a stop for the Maya train, which will run in a loop around the Yucatan peninsula.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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