Mexican beauty queen killed in shootout with soldiers was likely used as a human shield by drug traffickers
Maria Susana Flores Gamez was riding with hit men tied to the Sinaloa cartel, Mexican authorities sayMiss Flores, 20, had been crowned Miss Sinaloa 2012 and represented her country in ChinaFive people killed in gun battle in streets of town in western Mexico
21:23 GMT, 28 November 2012
A Mexican beauty queen killed over the weekend in a shootout between suspected drug traffickers and soldiers likely was being used as a human shield, a federal official said on Tuesday.
It emerged today that Maria Susana Flores Gamez, crowned 2012 Woman of Sinaloa in February, came out of the car first with a gun in her hands with the other gunmen hiding behind her, according to the attorney general's office.
The military report of the shootout said she went down in a hail of gunfire and was found dead near an assault rifle along with two other bodies.
'They used the woman as a human shield,' the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
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Maria Susana Flores Gamez poses for a photo along the shore in Guamuchil, Mexico. The 20-year-old state beauty queen died in a gun battle between soldiers and the alleged gang of drug traffickers she was traveling with last week
It emerged today that the beauty queen came out of the car first with a gun in her hands and the other gunmen hiding behind her before she was shot dead
Killed: Maria Susana Flores Gamez, 20, was riding with a group of hit men for the Sinaloa drug cartel and was thought to have been used as a human shield
Accomplished: Miss Flores was voted 2012 Woman of Sinaloa in February and represented her nation in China for the Miss Oriental Tourism International contest
The official said he read the
military report of Saturday's shootout in Flores Gamez's hometown of
Guamuchil in western Sinaloa state, home to Mexico's most powerful
cartel of the same name.
The attorney general's investigators are still trying to determine if the 20-year-old fired the gun she was holding.
The slender, 5-foot-7-inch brunette
had competed with seven other contestants for the more prestigious state
beauty contest, Miss Sinaloa, but didn't win.
Miss Sinaloa state winners compete for
the Miss Mexico title, whose holder represents the country in the
international Miss Universe pageant.
Mexico's Ximena Navarrete was crowned Miss Universe in 2010.
Local media outlets continue to misidentify Flores Gamez on Tuesday as Miss Sinaloa.
The organizers of the Miss Sinaloa
pageant issued a statement on the pageant's Facebook page, seeking to
make clear Flores Gamez was not their queen.
The misidentification 'damages the image and tranquility of our queens, their families and friends', the statement said.
Neither the state nor national pageants responded to requests for comment on Flores Gamez's death.
It was at least the fourth documented
case of a beauty queen or pageant contestant becoming involved with
Mexican drug traffickers, the theme of the critically acclaimed 2011
movie Miss Bala, or Miss Bullet, Mexico's official submission to the
Best Foreign Language Film category of Academy Awards.
The film tells the story of a young
woman competing for Miss Baja California who becomes an unwilling
participant in a drug-running ring, finally getting arrested for deeds
she was forced into performing.
Shootout: After a running gun battle with the hit men, soldiers tracked the cartel members to a safe house, where captured another shootout
Honored: Miss Flores is seen here being crowned 'Miss Sinaoloa' earlier this year
In real life, top Sinaloa cartel drug
lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman married local beauty queen Emma Coronel,
who later crossed into the United States to give birth to twin girls in
In 2008, former Miss Sinaloa Laura
Zuniga was stripped of her crown in the Hispanoamerican Queen pageant
after she was detained that year on suspicion of drug and weapons
She was later released without charges.
In 2011, a Colombian former model and
pageant contestant was detained along with Jose Jorge Balderas, an
accused drug trafficker and suspect in the 2010 bar shooting of Salvador
Cabanas, a former star for Paraguay's national football team and
Mexico's Club America. She was also later released.
'A lot of young women are attracted by
the false riches of the drug gangs. They offer the fantasy of a life of
riches without much work,' said Judith del Rincon, a women's rights
activist and former Sinaloa legislator. 'A lot of beauty queens wind up
as girlfriends of some narco.'
'Innocent': Miss Flores' family says she was simply a bystander on the way to work when she was caught in the crossfire and killed. They claim she was not involved with the cartel
Violent region: The gunbattle took place in a village in the drug-plagued western Mexican state of Sinaloa
Del Rincon added that the involvement
of drug lords with beauty queens dates back at least to the heyday of
the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix drug gang in the 1990s.
Sinaloa state prosecutor Marco Antonio
Higuera said Flores Gamez was traveling in one of several vehicles that
engaged soldiers in an hours-long chase and gun battle. He said two
other members of the drug gang were detained.
The shootout began when the gunmen
opened fire on a Mexican army patrol. Soldiers gave chase and cornered
the gang at a safe house in the town of Mocorito.
Some men escaped, and the gun battle
continued along a nearby roadway, where the gang's vehicles were
eventually stopped. Six vehicles, drugs and weapons were seized
following the confrontation.
Higuera said Flores Gamez's body has been turned over to relatives for burial.
Watch the video that claims to show a shoot out at a Sinaloa cartel safe house after Miss Flores was killed:
See Miss Flores being crowned 'Miss Sinaloa' in February: