Tourists scramble for cover after armed gang arrives at Cancun beach on jet skis and open fire

Tourists were sent scrambling for cover after gunmen arrived on jet skis at a beach in Mexico’s Caribbean coast resort in Cancun and opened fire. 

The attackers pulled up to the beach on jet skis and began shooting in Cancun’s hotel zone on Tuesday, Lucio Hernández Gutiérrez, the chief of police of the coastal state of Quintana Roo, said.  

Three jet skis have been found and seized, and nobody appeared to be injured in the attack, police said.  

A family from Utah said they ran for cover during the shooting, which they say involved the gunmen firing about ’20 shots’ near the beach. 

Tourists were sent scrambling for cover after gunmen arrived on jet skis at a beach in Mexico's Caribbean cost resort of Cancun and opened fire

Tourists were sent scrambling for cover after gunmen arrived on jet skis at a beach in Mexico's Caribbean cost resort of Cancun and opened fire

Tourists were sent scrambling for cover after gunmen arrived on jet skis at a beach in Mexico’s Caribbean cost resort of Cancun and opened fire

The attackers pulled up to the beach on jet skis and began shooting at a beach in Cancun's hotel zone on Tuesday

The attackers pulled up to the beach on jet skis and began shooting at a beach in Cancun's hotel zone on Tuesday

The attackers pulled up to the beach on jet skis and began shooting at a beach in Cancun’s hotel zone on Tuesday

Zayne Jones, from Midvale, said he heard the gunfire from his hotel room while his wife and children were at the hotel pool on the beach. 

He told KUTV: ‘I ran to the balcony to tell them to get down and get to a corridor and get cover. There was panic at the resort, people running and yelling.

‘Luckily nobody got hurt, but it could have gone a different way,’ he said. ‘Just not a good feeling having your kids out here.’ 

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

‘We just had to hit the deck,’ Guyrich said.

Arms initially thought it was some kind of show.

‘There was a delayed reaction for about maybe five seconds, then everybody started scrambling and screaming and crying and running,’ Arms recounted.

One witness to the attack, Rick Lebassa, a tourist from Maine, said two or three gunmen appeared to be shooting into the air with pistols, not at the beach. 

‘There were two guys and maybe even a third, who came in on jet skis, and what I saw was them shooting up into the sky,’ Lebassa said. ‘I did not see any shots coming in toward the shoreline.’

The shooting is the latest in a string of violent incidents on the resort-studded coast, and came in the same week that a special battalion of National Guard troops were assigned to protect the area

The shooting is the latest in a string of violent incidents on the resort-studded coast, and came in the same week that a special battalion of National Guard troops were assigned to protect the area

The shooting is the latest in a string of violent incidents on the resort-studded coast, and came in the same week that a special battalion of National Guard troops were assigned to protect the area

Members of the National Guard patrol a beach resort as part of the vacation security in the tourist zone in Cancun by the government of Quintana Roo on Sunday

Members of the National Guard patrol a beach resort as part of the vacation security in the tourist zone in Cancun by the government of Quintana Roo on Sunday

Members of the National Guard patrol a beach resort as part of the vacation security in the tourist zone in Cancun by the government of Quintana Roo on Sunday

Lebassa says this was the first incident of this kind he’s seen in his 31 years of coming to Cancun.

‘I’m not overly concerned because this is the first time ever,’ Lebassa said. ‘We’ve been coming down for 31 years and we’ve never had any issues.’

Not everyone was as unflappable as Lebassa, though.

Members of the Navy patrol a beach resort as part of the vacation security in the tourist zone in Cancun on Sunday

Members of the Navy patrol a beach resort as part of the vacation security in the tourist zone in Cancun on Sunday

Members of the Navy patrol a beach resort as part of the vacation security in the tourist zone in Cancun on Sunday

The shooting is the latest in a string of violent incidents on the resort-studded coast, and came in the same week that a special battalion of National Guard troops were assigned to protect the area. 

Mexican marines with bulletproof vests, helmets and assault rifles were seen patrolling Cancun’s tourist-crowded beaches following the Tuesday shooting.

‘It is too little, too late,’ said Robert Almonte, an expert on international criminal organizations, in a phone interview with DailyMail.com. 

The shooting is the latest in a string of violent incidents on the resort-studded coast, and came in the same week that a special battalion of National Guard troops were assigned to protect the area

The shooting is the latest in a string of violent incidents on the resort-studded coast, and came in the same week that a special battalion of National Guard troops were assigned to protect the area

 The shooting is the latest in a string of violent incidents on the resort-studded coast, and came in the same week that a special battalion of National Guard troops were assigned to protect the area

On November 5, a commando of drug gang gunmen stormed a beach at Puerto Morelos, a resort just south of Cancun, and opened fire in front of luxury hotels, executing two drug dealers from a rival gang. The dramatic shooting attack sent tourists scrambling for cover.

State authorities called it ‘a clash between rival groups of drug dealers on a beach’ near two hotels. Several cartels are fighting for the area’s lucrative retail drug trade, including the Jalisco cartel and the a gang allied with the Gulf cartel.

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

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

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

A San Jose, California woman born in India, Anjali Ryot, and German citizen Jennifer Henzold were apparently hit by crossfire from the October 20 drug dealers’ shootout in Tulum, south of Puerto Morelos.

Three other foreign tourists were wounded in the shooting at a street-side eatery that has some outdoor tables, right off Tulum’s main strip. They included two German men and a Dutch woman.

Anjali Ryot, of San Jose, California, was one of two women killed at a bar in Tulum, Mexico, in an incident sparked by rival drug dealers on October 19. The 25-year-old, who was born in India, was visiting the Mexican resort town for her birthday

Anjali Ryot, of San Jose, California, was one of two women killed at a bar in Tulum, Mexico, in an incident sparked by rival drug dealers on October 19. The 25-year-old, who was born in India, was visiting the Mexican resort town for her birthday

35-year-old German national Jennifer Henzold was murdered at the La Malquerida bar in Tulum on October 20

35-year-old German national Jennifer Henzold was murdered at the La Malquerida bar in Tulum on October 20

Anjali Ryot, of San Jose, California (left), was one of two women killed at a bar in Tulum, Mexico, in an incident sparked by rival drug dealers on October 19. The 25-year-old, who was born in India, was visiting the Mexican resort town for her birthday. 35-year-old German national Jennifer Henzold (right) was murdered at the La Malquerida bar in Tulum on October 20

The Tulum gunfight also apparently broke out between two groups that operate street-level drug sales in the area, according to prosecutors.

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

On June 11, a 30-year-old woman visiting from Kentucky was shot and wounded after assassins arrived at a Cancún beach on jet skis and killed two workers inside a gift shop. 

‘Tourists have been getting killed or assaulted at the resorts for some time now and it wasn’t until lately that the president decided to create this special unit to specifically address the resort area,’ said Almonte, a former US Marshal for the Western District of Texas and retired deputy chief with the El Paso Police Department. 

And in nearby Playa del Carmen, police stage a massive raid in October on the beach town´s restaurant-lined Quinta Avenida, detaining 26 suspects – most apparently for drug sales – after a city policewoman was shot to death and locked in the trunk of a car last week. Prosecutors said Friday they have arrested a suspect in that killing. 

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

The killings have not deterred tourists from booking their vacation stays at resorts in the region, which attract nearly 20 million visitors a year

The killings have not deterred tourists from booking their vacation stays at resorts in the region, which attract nearly 20 million visitors a year

The killings have not deterred tourists from booking their vacation stays at resorts in the region, which attract nearly 20 million visitors a year

At least 21,495 people had died as of September in violent incidents linked to criminal organizations, according to government data.

The state of Quintana Roo, which has a population of around 1.9million people, reported a minor decrease in murders between January and September, registering 442 homicides compared with 463 in the same period last year. 

However, the killings have not deterred tourists from booking their vacation stays at resorts in the region, whose stunning beaches and warm waters attract nearly 20million visitors a year. 

Benito Juárez mayor Mara Lezama welcomed the deployment throughout Cancún and the neighboring cities.

‘It’s a great day, a historic day on the issue of preventing crime and security,’ she said, as quoted by Excelsior newspaper. 

Almonte assured that the presence of the National Guard will help going forward, but it will not be enough stop the criminal organizations from operating and going after their rival targets.

‘The bottom line is these cartels are ruthless,’ Almonte said. ‘They are not going to let the presence of the national guardsmen deter them from executing their hit, from killing someone. And they’re not careful when they do that. So they’re spraying bullets and the result of that is innocent bystanders, tourists are killed.’

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