Mexican authorities on Saturday arrested two people suspected of involvement in a shooting between rival gangs on a beach near the Caribbean resort destination of Cancun that left two people dead.
The armed clash, which took place Thursday, was the second to shake Mexico’s Riviera Maya in recent weeks and is another blow to a tourism industry 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 travel to the beach. They arrested two people who had been driving, while one managed to escape.
“Two drivers were captured while a third one fled, and there was even an exchange of gunfire with police officers, managing to escape to a jungle area,” the attorney general said in a statement.
The office also said initial investigations showed that the groups involved that day had split off from the Sinaloa cartel who “are disputing territory for the sale of drugs.”
The shooting on November 4 took place on the beach outside one of the luxury resort hotels near Cancun, a popular tourist destination.
Local authorities had said the clash was between rival gangs of drug dealers.
Mexico is plagued by cartel-related bloodshed that has seen more than 300,000 people murdered since the government deployed the military in the war on drugs in 2006.
While the Riviera Maya, home to Cancun and other leading resort destinations including Playa del Carmen and Tulum, is generally considered safer than much of the country, there has been an increase in violence.
Last month, two tourists from Germany and India were killed in a shootout between suspected drug dealers in Tulum, while several others were wounded.
In 2017, three foreigners were among five killed in a shooting at an electronic music festival in Playa del Carmen.
The incidents have led European countries and the United States to warn their citizens about the risks of visiting the Mexican Caribbean, among the world’s top beach destinations.
Tourism represents 8.5 per cent of Mexico’s gross domestic product 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, a slump in visitor numbers has taken a heavy toll on the country’s tourism industry.