The killing of two Canadians at a resort on Mexico’s Caribbean coast last week was motivated by debts between international gangs apparently dedicated to drug and weapons trafficking, according to a senior Mexican prosecutor.
“The investigations indicate that this attack was motivated by debts that arose from transnational illegal activities that the victims participated in,” said Oscar Montes, the chief prosecutor of the Quintana Roo state, on Tuesday. “The information [is] that they were involved in weapons and drug trafficking, among other crimes.”
The attack took place Friday at the Hotel Xcaret resort, south of Playa del Carmen.
Prosecutors had previously said both victims had criminal records in Canada, and one was a known felon with a long record related to robbery, drug and weapons offenses.
A Canadian woman was wounded in the attack and is being treated at a local hospital.
Montes said the attack had been planned for almost a month by a crime faction which he declined to name but said had not previously been known to operate in the area.
The attackers apparently had guest wrist bands to enter the resort.
Montes said a first group of assassins hired to kill the Canadians earlier in January abandoned the job because there was too much security. A second assassin flew in to the resort to carry out the killing.
Authorities said the two suspects arrested in the case so far were a professional kidnapper from Mexico City who coordinated the plot, and the hired killer.
Police also alleged that they had arrested a woman, who was apparently part of the group of 10 Canadians who were vacationing at the resort. Montes said the woman had allegedly met with the killers and may have been providing them information.
IQuintana Roo, which is visited by huge numbers of foreign tourists, has previously played host to numerous crime rings with international connections.
A Romanian gang has long operated in the state, using ATM machines to clone credit cards or make illegal withdrawals. And this week authorities arrested two Ukrainians for their alleged involvement in a fuel theft ring. Immigrant traffickers have long used Cancún as base for smuggling Cuban migrants.
Last week’s killings were the latest in a series of brazen acts of violence along Mexico’s resort-studded Mayan Riviera coast, the crown jewel of the country’s tourism industry.
In November, a shootout on the beach of Puerto Morelos left two suspected drug dealers dead. Authorities said there were about 15 gunmen from a gang that apparently disputed control of drug sales there.
In late October, farther south in the laidback destination of Tulum, two tourists – one a California travel blogger born in India and the other German – were killed in the apparent crossfire of rival drug dealers.