Wednesday, February 21, 2024

US woman killed in shootout between drug dealers in Tulum

An American woman has been killed by a stray bullet after getting caught in a shootout between rival drug dealers at a beach club in the Mexican resort city of Tulum, officials said.

The US citizen had no connection to a suspected drug dealer from Belize also killed in the violence Friday night, prosecutors in the state of Quintana Roo stressed.

She was not formally identified by officials, but sources told ABC News the dead woman was Niko Honarbakhsh, a 44-year-old originally from Los Angeles who was living in Cancun, Mexico.

Prosecutors believe she was caught in the crossfire and struck by a stray bullet.

They denied a local report that she was romantically linked to the slain suspected drug dealer, stressing that a photo from the scene showed a different woman with him.

The suspected dealer — who was nicknamed “Belize” — had cocaine and pills when he was gunned down, officials said.

He is “identified for his probable participation” in “drug-related crimes” and “was part of a criminal group that generated violence in the state,”  the State Attorney General stated.


Beach in Tulum, Mexico
A 44-year-old woman from Los Angeles was shot dead during a gun battle between rival drug dealers at a beach club in Tulum, Mexico. Irina – stock.adobe.com

Suspects in the beach club shooting had been identified and police were on the hunt for them. They have not been publicly named as of Monday.

Foreign tourists have been killed in the past after getting caught in drug-related shootouts in Tulum, located south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

In 2021, California travel blogger Anjali Ryot and German citizen Jennifer Henzold were killed while eating at a restaurant after being caught in the middle of a gunfight between rival drug dealers.


File photo shows woman walking in Tulum, Mexico
The once-tranquil resort city of Tulum has been the site of several drug-related shootouts that claimed the lives of tourists. JDMainz – stock.adobe.com

Last year, the US State Department issued a travel alert warning Americans to “exercise increased situational awareness” especially after dark, at Mexico’s Caribbean beach resorts like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

With Post wires

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