MEXICO CITY — A commando of drug gang gunmen on Thursday stormed ashore at a beach on Mexico’s resort-studded Caribbean coast in front of luxury hotels and executed two drug dealers from a rival gang.
Tourists fled to Puerto Morelos just south of Cancun after the dramatic shooting incident.
Two suspected drug dealers were killed on Thursday after arriving at the Azul Beach Resort and Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun earlier that day to claim it as 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 station.
Montes de Oca’s office said earlier “there was a clash between rival groups of drug dealers on a beach” near the hotels. Several cartels are fighting for the area’s lucrative retail drug trade, including the Jalisco cartel and the a gang allied with the Gulf cartel.
According to him, one of those men who were attacked in the attack ran into one of these hotels and died. Another victim died at the seaside. According to him, one victim sustained non-life-threatening injuries during the attack. However authorities were not able to determine if that was an employee of a hotel or guest as they were still receiving medical treatment.
Governor Carlos Joaquin claimed that the commando arrived on the beach in ski masks. Montes de Oca claimed that they ran in boats after the attack.
Joaquin called the attack “a serious blow to the development and security of the state … putting the image of the state at grave risk.”
The shootings were the latest chapter in drug gang violence that has sullied the reputation of Mexico’s Caribbean coast as a once-tranquil oasis.
Video and photographs were posted by Hyatt Ziva Resort Riviera Cancun guests showing tourists nervously milling around in hotel lobby or hallways during the incident.
Azul Beach Resort guests also uploaded videos showing people gathering or taking refuge in their lobby. The shooting took place on the beach nearby, according to an employee at the hotel.
Rival cartels often kill another gang’s street-level dealers in Mexico to eliminate competition and ensure their drugs are sold first. Tourists are not uncommonly caught up in such fights.
Two weeks ago, a California tourist blogger was killed and another German tourist was injured in an identical shootout at Tulum.
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. Two German and one Dutch man were among them.
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.”
Prosecutors claim that the Tulum gunfight was also between two drug-smuggling groups operating in the same area.
Montes de Oca stated that eight Tulum attackers were in custody in possession firearms.
Quintana Roo state was the location of all resorts and there have been indications that it wasn’t under control. Two men died on Tulum’s beach after being shot, and another was injured.
And in nearby Playa del Carmen, police stage 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 last week. On Friday, prosecutors said they had arrested one suspect in the 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.