Three Canadian visitors have been shot dead by a lone gunman at their hotel in the Mexican resort of Playa del Carmen – in an attack, security officials call people targeted and alleging criminal records.
One of the tourists died of his injuries while being taken to hospital following Friday’s incident, according to Quintana Roo State Public Security Secretary Lucio Hernández Gutiérrez , which confirmed the nationality of the victims.
The state’s attorney’s office later tweeted that a second Canadian had died of his injuries.
The first person to die – identified as ATCH – “had a criminal record: drug trafficking, use of a false identity, among others”, specifies the office.
ATCH “was considered a very dangerous person in Canada,” said district attorney Óscar Montes de Oca Rosales says Radio Formula.
The second deceased victim, RJD, “also had a criminal history”, according to the prosecution.
Reports shared on social media showed a lone assailant dressed in a gray tracksuit and brandishing a pistol on the grounds of the Xcaret Hotel. Video posted to Twitter showed people screaming as a victim received first aid. Video was later filmed to show two other injured victims lying by the pool – one bleeding profusely.
“He’s still breathing,” one person could be heard saying amid the chaos.
The assailant escaped into the thick tropical vegetation surrounding Xcaret – famous for its theme parks in the Riviera Maya – and remains at large. Hernández Gutiérrez said the shooting “resulted from an argument between hotel guests”.
Global Affairs Canada said in a brief statement that it was “aware of reports that Canadian citizens have been affected by an incident in Mexico.”
The attack on a luxury resort comes amid a series of shootings in the Yucatan Peninsula’s Riviera Maya that have killed or injured tourists caught in the crossfire.
A team of at least 10 gunmen stormed the beach of a luxury hotel near Cancun in November, killing a person linked to a rival faction and dragging down another person trying to hide.
A Californian travel blogger and a German tourist were killed in October at a restaurant in Tulum, south of Playa del Carmen, in a shootout between suspected gang members.
The region attracts millions of tourists every year – including during the coronavirus pandemic, as Mexico has imposed no Covid tests or vaccination requirements for travellers.
But many of Mexico’s major drug cartels fight over the area, where they run extortion rackets and sell drugs to tourists.
State officials have blamed the rise in violence on disputes over drug trafficking – with foreign tourists being the biggest buyers.