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More on the death of Miss Sinaloa 2012 beauty queen (update)

11/26/2012

Sinaloa. – María Susana Flores Gámez, winner of the Miss Sinaloa 2012 contest and her boyfriend were killed amid a military confrontation against an armed group.

State Ministerial Police confirmed that the 22-year-old was with the group of attackers who confronted the soldiers in a safe house in the town of Caitime, in the municipality of Salvador Alvarado.

Flores was elected Miss Sinaloa in February 2012, while in 2009 she was named Model of the Year.

She was selected from over 50 applicants as Miss Tourism East Mexico, in May represented the country at Miss Tourism International Oriental, made in China.

The model was originally from Culiacan and was studying a degree in communication sciences.

The scuffle occurred last Saturday, it originated in Caitime and ended in El Palmar Los Leal Mocorito.

Beside the young model, two soldiers and two civilians also died. It is believed that one of those civilians was victim of the armed group.

According to information from the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA), a military convoy was traveling on Caitime streets when it was attacked by gunmen who later took refuge in a safe house in Mocorito.

The troops responded the aggression and killed a man. After that first confrontation, the armed group escaped from the house.

The soldiers chased the gunmen and in El Palmar Los Leal Maria Susana fell dead.

A resident of El Progreso, identified as Rosario Mendez Rios, 54, was killed when gunmen seized his vehicle to escape. Authorities said the gunmen shot him several times.

The armed group is allegedly linked with Orso Ivan Gastelum, El Cholo or Ivan Vago, who serves as head of the Sinaloa cartel hitmen in the region of Évora.

This hit-man escaped from the Aguaruto prison in August 2009 after he organized a party in module five to say goodbye to his friends.

According to information from the Army, after the confrontation three alleged gunmen were arrested. They were identified as Gabino Ramirez Lopez, 23, Alvaro Uribe Cazares, 22, and Oscar Yovani Rodriguez Beltran, 22.

The other killed was identified as Eleazar López Bernal, member of the armed group that attacked the troops.

Five soldiers were injured in the confrontation and were taken to a military hospital in Mazatlan. One of these wounded soldiers later died, Sergeant Francisco Guadalupe Gutierrez Aguilar, 35. Another soldier died at the scene of the confrontation, but his identity was not provided.

7 AK-47, a grenade launcher, two grenades, a .40 mm caliber rifle, a thousand rounds, and six vehicle (one armored) were secured from the safe house.

(unconfirmed video of the shooting)

Previous post related to this case
Beauty Queen, Miss Sinaloa 2012, Dies in Shootout

Following post related to this case
Soldiers: Mexico beauty queen had gun in her hands
Update

Making the international news

Mexican beauty queen killed in shootout

By MARTIN DURAN, Associated Press

CULIACAN, Mexico (AP) — A 20-year-old state beauty queen died in a gun battle between soldiers and the alleged gang of drug traffickers she was traveling with in a scene befitting the hit movie “Miss Bala,” or “Miss Bullet,” about Mexico’s not uncommon ties between narcos and beautiful young pageant contestants.

The body of Maria Susana Flores Gamez was found Saturday lying near an assault rifle on a rural road in a mountainous area of the drug-plagued state of Sinaloa, the chief state prosecutor said Monday. It was unclear if she had used the weapon.

“She was with the gang of criminals, but we cannot say whether she participated in the shootout,” state prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera said. “That’s what we’re going to have to investigate.”

The slender brunette was voted the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa in a beauty pageant in February. She had earlier competed for the more prestigious Miss Sinaloa state beauty contest, but didn’t win.

Higuera said Flores Gamez was traveling in one of the vehicles that engaged soldiers in an hours-long chase and gun battle. Besides Flores Gamez, Higuera said two people were killed and four 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 near the town of Mocorito. They 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.

It was at least the third instance in which a beauty queen or pageant contestants have been linked to Mexico’s violent drug gangs, a theme so common it was the subject of a critically acclaimed 2011 movie.

In “Miss Bala,” Mexico’s official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of this year’s Academy Awards, a young woman competing for Miss Baja California becomes an unwilling participant in a drug-running ring, finally getting arrested for deeds she was forced into performing.

In real life, former Miss Sinaloa Laura Zuniga was stripped of her 2008 crown in the Hispanoamerican Queen pageant after she was detained on suspicion of drug and weapons violations. She was later released without charges.

Zuniga was detained in western Mexico in late 2010 along with seven men, some of them suspected drug traffickers. Authorities found a large stash of weapons, ammunition and $53,300 with them inside a vehicle.

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.

Higuera said Flores Gamez’s body has been turned over to relatives for burial.

“This is a sad situation,” Higuera told a local radio station. She had been enrolled in media courses at a local university, and had been modeling and pageants since at least 2009.

Javier Valdez, the author of a 2009 book about narco ties to beauty pageants entitled “Miss Narco,” said “this is a recurrent story.”

“There is a relationship, sometimes pleasant and sometimes tragic, between organized crime and the beauty queens, the pageants, the beauty industry itself,” Valdez said.

“It is a question of privilege, power, money, but also a question of need,” said Valdez. “For a lot of these young women, it is easy to get involved with organized crime, in a country that doesn’t offer many opportunities for young people.”

Sometimes drug traffickers seek out beauty queens, but sometimes the models themselves look for narco boyfriends, Valdez said.

“I once wrote about a girl I knew of who was desperate to get a narco boyfriend,” he said. “She practically took out a classified ad saying ‘Looking for a Narco’.”

The stories seldom end well. In the best of cases, a beautiful woman with a tear-stained face is marched before the press in handcuffs. In the worst of cases, they simply disappear.

“They are disposable objects, the lowest link in the chain of criminal organizations, the young men recruited as gunmen and the pretty young women who are tossed away in two or three years, or are turned into police or killed.”

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