By Edward V. Byrne for The Yucatan Times
September 11, 2011
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Quintana Roo’s plush Playa del Carmen, long a haven for North American and European tourists, was the scene of presumed narco violence early this morning. Shortly before 6:00 a.m. Tourist Police Chief Mario Gómez Frías was shot several times and found dead in his patrol vehicle. He had sustained a head wound.
A second officer accompanying the chief as his bodyguard suffered at least four gunshot wounds but survived. He was taken to a local hospital and operated on about 10:30 a.m. The officer was in stable condition.
Witnesses reported hearing at least seven shots. Some say the attack appeared to be an ambush, with multiple gunmen walking up to both sides of the patrol vehicle while it was stopped and firing inside at close range.
In recent months Quintana Roo state has experienced increasing levels of drug related violence, including murders. Police in Playa del Carmen say they began receiving threats after four drug dealers were arrested recently in the tourist zone. In a press conference today the mayor, Filiberto Martínez Méndez, acknowledged that the community is confronting security issues.
Mexican authorities maintain that the feared Los Zetas cartel controls most organized crime activities in Cancún and Quintana Roo.