A Mexican beauty queen was killed over the weekend in a shootout between suspected drug traffickers and the military in restive Sinaloa state.
Named the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa, 20-year-old Maria Susana Flores Gamez was traveling with the alleged drug traffickers and her body was found next to an assault rifle, authorities said on Monday, according to The Associated Press. They said it was not clear if she had used the weapon.
“She was with the gang of criminals, but we cannot say whether she participated in the shootout,” Sinaloa state prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera told AP. “That’s what we’re going to have to investigate.”
Higuera told the news agency that four people were arrested, various weapons were seized, and drugs as well as vehicles were taken. Two other people died in the shootout.
Organizers of the 2012 Our Sinaloa Beauty contest, which Flores Gamez won, expressed their condolences.
“We are dismayed by the news--a beautiful young person, happy, and with a big future ahead of her,” pageant organizers said in a statement obtained by CNN. “Rest in peace Susy.”
According to AP, it is the third time that a beauty queen or contestant has been linked to Mexican drug gangs.
More than 47,500 people have been killed in drug violence since December 2006 after President Felipe Calderon directed the army to fight cartels.