Two men who were not tourists were shot and killed this week on a beach in Puerto Morelos, a resort just south of Cancun, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.
The men, who earlier in the day claimed to be drug dealers, were killed by alleged members of a rival group of drug dealers, authorities say. The armed suspects escaped in a stolen motorboat.
The stretch of beach is popular with tourists because it is home to several resorts, including the Hyatt Ziva Hotel in Puerto Morelos. The brazen attack sent tourists and resort staff running and searching for cover.
This attack comes just 2 weeks after two tourists were killed in a shootout between rival drug-dealing gangs in the neighboring town of Tulum.
In that shooting, a tourist from San Jose, California, and an unrelated tourist from Germany were killed, an Associated Press story reports. Three other foreign tourists were wounded during the exchange of gunfire.
A Popular Tourist Destination
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula extends into the Atlantic Ocean and separates the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. There are three Mexican states — Yucatan, Quintana Roo, and Campeche — on the peninsula.
Quintana Roo’s eastern coast is known for its stunning beaches. The resort areas, and exceedingly popular destinations, Cancun and Tulum lie on this coast. The other most-popular resort area is Cozumel — an island in the Caribbean Sea about 10 miles off the peninsula’s coast.
A Startling Attack
The Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office said it has begun investigating an incident “where two men lost their lives after being shot by members of a criminal group dedicated to drug dealing and with whom, according to preliminary information, “were having a territorial dispute for the sale of toxic substances,” ABC News reports.
The incident began around 11:30 a.m. when a group of four or five men showed up at the beach. Those men then said “they were going to be in charge of the sale of drugs in that area of the beach,” according to the Quintana Roo Attorney General’s Office.
Later that day, at around 2:15 p.m., “About 15 people arrived on the beach to assassinate” two men, the head prosecutor of Quintana Roo state, Oscar Montes de Oca, told the Radio Formula station, an Associated Press story reports.
One of the men targeted in the attack fled into a hotel before dying, Montes de Oca said. The second man was killed on the beach.
An Eyewitness Account
As expected, chaos immediately followed the shootings.
Mike Sington, who was staying at the Hyatt Ziva Riviera Cancun, posted videos of hotel staff and tourists gathered inside the resort on social media.
“Guests are telling me they were playing volleyball on the beach, gunman approached firing gun,” Sington posted. “Everyone ran from beach and swimming pools. Staff hustled us into hidden rooms behind the kitchens.”
Sington later posted that “I’ve never been so scared, literally shaking.” And then later that night, he posted that “I’m fine now, barricaded in my hotel room for the night, just trying to decompress.”
Know Before You Go
U.S. citizens should “Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To Quintana Roo State due to crime,” the U.S. State Department bluntly warns. “Criminal activity and violence may occur throughout the state.”