Gunmen on jet skis open fire on a beach in the Mexican resort of Cancun

CANCUN, Mexico – Gunfire erupted on a beach in the Mexican resort town of Cancun on the Caribbean coast on Tuesday, sending tourists rushing to safety, but authorities said no one appeared to be injured.

Lucio Hernández Gutiérrez, police chief for the coastal state of Quintana Roo, said the attackers apparently pulled up on the beach on a jet ski and opened fire on a beach in Cancun’s hotel zone. Hernández Gutiérrez said the jet skis were found and seized.

A witness to the attack, Rick Lebassa, a Maine tourist, said two or three gunmen appeared to be shooting guns in the air, not on the beach.

“There were two guys, and maybe even a third, who came in on jet skis, and what I saw was they shot into the sky,” Lebassa said. “I didn’t see any shots coming towards the shore.”

Lebassa says it was the first such incident he’s seen in 31 years of coming to Cancun.

“I’m not too worried because it’s the first time,” Lebassa said. “We’ve been going downhill for 31 years and we’ve never had a problem.”

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However, not everyone was as unflappable as Lebassa.

Andy Guyrich and Kerry Arms, who were from Minnesota, described more gunfire and terror on the beach.

“We just had to touch the deck,” Guyrich said.

Arms initially thought it was some kind of show.

“There was a delayed reaction of about five seconds, and then everyone started scrambling, screaming, crying and running,” Arms recounted.

The shooting is the latest in a series of violent incidents on the resort-studded coast and took place the same week a special battalion of National Guard troops was assigned to protect the area. Mexican marines with body armor, helmets and assault rifles were seen patrolling crowded tourist beaches in Cancun after Tuesday’s shooting.

On Nov. 5, a commando of drug gang gunmen stormed a beach in Puerto Morelos, a resort town just south of Cancun, and opened fire outside luxury hotels, executing two drug smugglers. drugs from a rival gang. The dramatic attack prompted tourists to take shelter.

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State authorities called it a “clash between rival groups of drug dealers on a beach” near two hotels. Several cartels fight for the lucrative drug retail trade in the region, including the Jalisco Cartel and the gang allied with the Gulf Cartel.

The shootings were the latest chapter in drug gang violence that has marred the reputation of Mexico’s Caribbean coast as a once-tranquil oasis.

Rival cartels often kill other gang’s street dealers in Mexico to eliminate competition and ensure their drugs are sold first. This is not the first time that tourists have been caught in the crossfire of these battles.

The Puerto Morelos shooting came two weeks after a California travel blogger and a German tourist were killed in a similar shooting in the seaside town of Tulum in October.

An Indian-born San Jose, Calif. woman, Anjali Ryot, and German citizen Jennifer Henzold were apparently hit in the crossfire during the Oct. 20 shooting of drug traffickers in Tulum, south of Puerto Morelos.

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Three other foreign tourists were injured in the shooting at a roadside restaurant that has outdoor tables just off Tulum’s main street. They included two German men and a Dutch woman.

The Tulum shooting also reportedly broke out between two groups that sell street drugs in the area, prosecutors say.

There were signs that the situation in the state of Quintana Roo, where all the resorts are located, was out of control months ago. In June, two men were shot on the beach in Tulum and a third was injured.

And in nearby Playa del Carmen, police staged a massive raid in October on the beach town’s restaurant-lined Quinta Avenida, arresting 26 suspects – most of them apparently on drug charges – after a female policewoman from the town was shot and locked in the trunk of a car Last week. Prosecutors said Friday they arrested a suspect in the murder.

The administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has pinned its hopes on the so-called Riviera Maya, where it has announced plans to build an international airport and a stop for the Maya train, which will loop around the Yucatan peninsula. .

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