Tourists flee holiday hotspot after five gunmen on jet skis open fire just steps away from family resort in 'drug war'

TOURISTS scrambled for cover after gunfire broke out on a beach at the family-friendly Mexican resort in Cancun.

The attackers pulled up to the beach outside the four-star Oasis Palm hotel on jet skis and began shooting in the hotel zone.

Lucio Hernández Gutiérrez, the chief of police of the coastal state of Quintana Roo, said the attackers apparently pulled up to the beach on jet skis and opened fire at a beach in Cancun's hotel zone. 

The jet skis have been found a mile away on a beach and seized.

One witness to the attack, Rick Lebassa, a tourist from Maine, USA, said two or three gunmen appeared to be shooting into the air with pistols, not at the beach.

He said: “There were two guys and maybe even a third, who came in on jet skis, and what I saw was them shooting up into the sky.

“I did not see any shots coming in toward the shoreline.”

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Andy Guyrich and Kerry Arms, who were visiting from Minnesota, USA, described more gunshots and terror on the beach.

He said: “We just had to hit the deck.”

Ms Arms initially thought it was some kind of show.

She said: “There was a delayed reaction for about maybe five seconds, then everybody started scrambling and screaming and crying, and running, Arms recounted.

The shooting is the latest in a string of violent incidents on the resort-studded coast, and came in the same week that a special battalion of National Guard troops were assigned to protect the area. 

Mexican marines with bulletproof vests, helmets and assault rifles were seen patrolling Cancun's tourist-crowded beaches following the shooting yesterday. 

There was a delayed reaction for about maybe five seconds, then everybody started scrambling and screaming and crying, and running, Arms recounted

In November. 5, a commando of drug gang gunmen stormed a beach at Puerto Morelos, a resort just south of Cancun, and opened fire in front of luxury hotels, executing two drug dealers from a rival gang. 

The dramatic shooting attack sent tourists scrambling for cover.

State authorities called it a clash between rival groups of drug dealers on a beach near two hotels. Several cartels are fighting for the area's lucrative retail drug trade, including the Jalisco cartel and a gang allied with the Gulf cartel.

The shootings were the latest chapter in drug gang violence that has sullied the reputation of Mexico's Caribbean coast as a once-tranquil oasis.

Rival cartels often kill other gangs street-level dealers in Mexico to eliminate competition and ensure their drugs are sold first. It is not the first time that tourists have been caught in the crossfire of such battles.

The Puerto Morelos shooting came two weeks after a California travel blogger and a German tourist were killed in a similar shootout in the beach town of Tulum in October.

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