MEXICO CITY (AP) — Two suspected drug dealers were killed in Mexico’s Caribbean coast resort of Puerto Morelos, after gunmen from competing gangs staged a dramatic shootout near upscale hotels popular with foreign tourists.
The shootings were the latest chapter in drug gang violence that has sullied the reputation of Mexico’s resort-studded Caribbean coast as a once-tranquil oasis.
The prosecutors office in Quintana Roo state said nobody else was seriously injured in the gun battle, but did not specify what other, non-serious injuries occurred.
The office said “there was a clash between rival groups of drug dealers on a beach” near the hotels.
Guests at the Azul Beach Resort posted videos and photos of tourists hiding or nervously milling in the lobby and hallways of hotels during the incident. An employee who answered the phone at the hotel said the shooting occurred on the beach near the facility.
Guests at the Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun resort also tweeted images of guests hiding or gathered in the lobby.
The shooting comes two weeks after a California travel blogger and a German tourist were killed in a similar shootout in the beach town of 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. 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 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. 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 in a statement 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.