Authorities seize vehicles, weapons and drugs; four people are detained
Maria Susana Flores Gamez, 20, was crowned 2012 Woman of Sinaloa in Febraury
A rifle was found near the beauty queen's body, says the Sinaloa state attorney general
A Mexican beauty queen was killed during a weekend shootout in Sinaloa, a northern state known for drug-fueled violence, authorities said Monday.
Maria Susana Flores Gamez, 20, was the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa. She was killed Saturday in a gun battle between military troops and suspected criminals in the municipality of Mocorito. Two others were also killed.
Sinaloa State Attorney General Marco Antonio Higuera said a rifle was found near the beauty queen’s body, but it was not clear whether she had fired it. It was also not clear who shot her.
“All we know is that it happened during a confrontation that the army had with criminals, and that she was with the group of criminals,” he told reporters, according to a transcript from his office.
Four people were detained, he said, and authorities seized various weapons, drugs and vehicles.
Flores Gamez was a student of communications. She was crowned Woman of Sinaloa in February, beating more than a dozen young women for the title.
In addition to the Woman of Sinaloa pageant, Flores Gamez had participated in the 2012 Our Sinaloa Beauty contest. Organizers of that pageant released a statement upon news of her death, offering condolences to the family, which received her body Monday.
“We are dismayed by the news – a beautiful young person, happy, and with a big future ahead of her, ” the pageant organizers said. “Rest in peace Susy.”
The beauty queen is not the first in Mexico to make headlines for something other than her good looks.
In 2008, Laura Zuniga, who was then the reigning Our Sinaloa Beauty, was taken into custody along with seven men.
They had been traveling in two vehicles that contained AR-15 assault rifles, 38 specials, 9mm handguns, cartridges and $50,000 in cash, Luis Carlos Najera Gutierrez de Velazco, secretary of public security for the state of Jalisco, said then.
She was subsequently released.
More than 47,500 people have died across Mexico in drug-related violence since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon took office and announced plans to deploy federal troops to help the government’s fight against organized crime.
According to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission, more than 5,300 people have disappeared throughout the country in that same time, and the bodies of 9,000 dead have not been identified.
CNNMexico.com contributed to this report.