An American tourist was wounded while on vacation in Cancún after Narco hitmen on jet skis sprayed a beach with bullets in an apparent turf war with a rival drug gang. Two people were killed in the shooting.
The tourist, identified only as Kanya N, is a resident of Kentucky and was hospitalised after a stray bullet hit her in the shoulder when she was caught in the crossfire while relaxing under a palm-roofed hut, Vice reported.
Witnesses say two gunmen fired 10 to 15 shots at the beach before escaping across the water. The two victims died at the beach and were reportedly street vendors who sold craft items to tourists. Many such vendors also work as drug dealers, selling marijuana and cocaine to visitors.
The shooting took place in the afternoon of 11 June and is thought to have been a conflict over territory between rival drug gangs.
Around 150 police officers cleared unlicensed structures from the beach, called Playa Tortugas, the next day. Vendor huts were removed to discourage drug dealers from doing business there.
Shots were fired at the local office of the department of the state prosecutor that works to fight small-scale drug trafficking. It remains unclear if the events are related.
The state of Quintana Roo, which includes destinations such as Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cozumel, is considered to be one of Mexico’s safer places. But it’s also a location where drugs arrive from South America. Because of the large number of tourists who visit the area, it’s also considered to be a central place for drug consumption.
This leads to the violence motivated by the drug trade that plagues the country to sometimes reach tourist destinations. During the first four months of this year, there were 209 murders in Quintana Roo, which is down from 266 murders during the same period last year.
It’s rare that jet skis are used to carry out assassinations like this, but it has happened before. In Acapulco on the country’s western coast, gunmen have attacked from the sea several times, similarly killing a street vendor. Authorities also think that incident was connected to low-level drug dealing.
A street vendor was targeted by jet ski attackers in Cancún in 2018, but no one was injured during that incident.
Cancún, a city reliant on tourism, was hit hard by the pandemic, with locals now worrying that drug cartel violence could further push away would-be visitors.
Kanya’s condition remains unclear.