Mexican authorities on Saturday arrested two people suspected of being involved in a shootout between rival gangs on a beach near the Caribbean resort of Cancun, killing two.
The armed conflict, which took place on Thursday, was the second to rock Mexico’s Riviera Maya in recent weeks and another setback for a tourism industry that is still recovering from the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
The attorney general’s office for the eastern state of Quintana Roo said it had managed to locate three of the four vehicles the suspected shooters used to get to the beach. They arrested two people driving the vehicle, while one managed to escape.
“Two drivers were apprehended, while a third fled, and there was an exchange of bullets with police officers who managed to escape into the forest area,” the attorney general said in a statement.
The office also said that preliminary investigations showed that the groups involved had broken away from the Sinaloa cartel that day “disputed areas for the sale of drugs.”
The November 4 shooting took place on the beach outside a luxury resort hotel near Cancun, a popular tourist destination.
Local officials had said that the clash was between rival gangs of drug dealers.
Mexico is plagued by cartel-related bloodshed, which has killed more than 300,000 people since the government deployed the military in the war on drugs in 2006.
While the Riviera Maya, home to Cancun and other major resorts including Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is generally considered safer than most of the country, violence has increased.
Last month, two tourists from Germany and India were killed in a shootout between suspected drug dealers in Tulum, while several others were injured.
In 2017, three foreigners were killed in a shooting at an electronic music festival in Playa del Carmen.
The events have prompted European countries and the United States to warn their citizens about the risks of visiting the Mexican Caribbean, one of the world’s top beach destinations.
Tourism represents 8.5% of Mexico’s GDP and is the main economic activity in the Southeast region, which includes the Riviera Maya.
Although Mexico has remained open to foreigners during the COVID-19 pandemic, the drop in the number of visitors has taken a toll on the country’s tourism industry.