Two female tourists were killed, and three others were wounded after an exchange of gunfires between rival Mexican drug cartels at a bar in Mexico.

According to Daily Mail, the tourists were dining at a bar known as La Malquerida in Tulum, Mexico on Wednesday night, when drug dealers from rival Mexican drug cartels had opened fire.

One of the shooters, Jose Antonio Lira Perez, was arrested after security cameras tracked him down to a local hospital, where his wound was being treated.

Local media reported that the gunmen were only after 24-year-old Lira Perez, who entered the bar for refuge as the gunmen shot at him.

The Quintana Roo State Attorney General's Office did not issue the names, ages, and nationalities of those who died and were injured.

However, local media outlets Las Noticias de Tulum and Noticias Pedro Canche had identified those who died as Indian nationals Jennifer Itenzold, 35, and a woman named Angeli, whose last name and age were still unknown.

The wounded victims were identified as Evan der Kooij Eline, 21, of Holland; Maicol, 32, of England; and Anima Gandaf, 27, of Germany.

The Guardian reported that one of the fatalities died at the scene, while the other died in a hospital. Preliminary investigations suggested that the shooting was an armed clash between rival Mexican drug cartels operating in the area. 

Tulum's mayor Marciano Dzul told Milenio that the victims appeared to have been caught in the crossfire as they had no known links to the members of the cartels dedicated to selling illegal drugs.

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Violence in Tulum, Mexico

According to Dzul, Tulum is facing a wave of violence linked to rival Mexican drug cartels involved in drug dealing and extortion.

Tulum is one of Mexico's top tourist destinations due to its ancient Mayan ruins and turquoise waters. The town grew from a laid-back beach retreat to a major international destination. However, it has been shaken by turf wars between Mexican drug cartels.

The administration of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was eyeing to boost tourism in town and nearby areas, with its plans to build an international airport and a stop for the Maya train, which would run around the Yucatan peninsula, according to ABC News.

However, the Quintana Roo state, where beach resorts like Tulum, Cancun, and Playa del Carmen are located, has been plagued by violence.

In 2019, law enforcement noted that a dispute over street-level drug dealing was also the motive behind a bar shooting in a resort at Playa del Carmen that left seven men dead.

Several Mexican drug cartels operate in the state, which is known for a lucrative drug trafficking market and as a landing area for drug shipments.

Villages Turn Into Ghost Towns Due to Wave of Violence Linked to Mexican Drug Cartels

Due to a wave of crime and violence linked to Mexican drug cartels, many villages near the U.S.-Mexico border had transformed into ghost towns.

El Cajon is one of the hundreds of villages near the U.S.-Mexico border that has become a ghost town due to the wave of crime and violence that prompted people to leave.

According to USA Today, this small village in Mexico's western state of Michoacan has around 60 abandoned houses full of bull bullet holes.

The report said more than 100 people lived in El Cajon two years ago, and now, there are only eight. The brutal attacks by Mexican drug cartels had reportedly forced people to flee.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Center in Mexico said there were 9,700 new displacements due to conflict in 2020. As of last December, the total count of people displaced in Mexico was 357,000. A recent report said that about 24,000 displaced migrants, many from Michoacan, are seen to go to Tijuana to seek asylum in the U.S.

Falko Ernst, a senior security analyst for the International Crisis Group, said Mexican drug cartels have moved toward deep territorial penetration, adding that they're not only seeking to control lands but also populations.

The Tierra Caliente region of Michoacan was reportedly one of the most dangerous and forgotten places in Mexico. The ongoing conflict between the Jalisco cartel, Los Viagras drug cartel, and armed self-defense groups in the area has led to many deaths, thousands of internally displaced people, and increasing numbers of people fleeing to cross the U.S. border.

The Jalisco cartel or Jalisco New Generation Cartel is the most dangerous and powerful drug cartel in Mexico. 

READ MORE: Clashing Mexican Drug Cartels Leave 2 Police and 7 Others Dead in Mexico

This article is owned by Latin Post.

Written by: Mary Webber

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