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American woman killed in apparent crossfire during drug dispute in Tulum, Mexico



LOS ANGELES — An American woman originally from Los Angeles and a man from Belize were killed in what appears to have been a dispute between drug dealers at a beach club in the Mexican resort city of Tulum, officials confirmed Sunday.

Prosecutors in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo stressed the American woman had no connection to an alleged drug dealer also killed in the shooting Friday night. According to ABC News, the woman, identified as 44-year-old Niko Honarbakhsh, was apparently caught in the crossfire and was killed.

Honarbakhsh was living in Cancun, sources told ABC News.

Prosecutors denied reports in local media that the two may have been a couple, saying a photo of the Belizean man showed him with a completely different woman.

The Central American country of Belize shares a border with Mexico on the Caribbean coast. Tulum is located south of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, closer to Belize.

Prosecutors said the dead man had cocaine and pills in his possession when he was killed, and was believed to be a dealer. They said the suspects in the shootings had been identified and were being sought.

SEE ALSO: Americans who survived kidnapping in Mexico share details of captivity: ‘None of us deserved it’

Foreign tourists have been killed in the past after getting caught in drug gang shootouts in the once-tranquil beach resort.

In 2021 in Tulum, two tourists – one a California travel blogger born in India and the other German – were killed while eating at a restaurant. They apparently were caught in the crossfire of a gunfight between rival drug dealers.

Last year, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert warning travelers to “exercise increased situational awareness” especially after dark, at Mexico’s Caribbean beach resorts like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.

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