A Mexican beauty queen was killed in the crossfire of military troops and suspected criminals in the northern state of Sinaloa where drug-fueled violence is common.
The body of Maria Susana Flores Gamez, 20, was found after the Saturday shootout, according to CNN.
A rifle was found near her body, but it was unclear whether she had fired the gun.
"All we know is that it happened during a confrontation that the army had with criminals, and that she was with the group of criminals," Sinaloa State Attorney General Marco Antonio Higuera told reporters, according to a transcript of a press conference.
Flores Gamez was the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa, a title she won after besting more than a dozen other women. She was a communications student and competed in other pageants, including the 2012 Our Sinaloa Beauty contest. "We are dismayed by the news — a beautiful young person, happy, and with a big future ahead of her. Rest in peace Susy," organizers of one pageant said in a statement.
The gun battle occurred in the municipality of Mocorito. Two others were killed in the firefight. Authorities took four others into custody and various weapons, vehicles, and drugs were confiscated.
It was the second recent killing of a prominent Mexican woman in drug-related violence. On Nov. 12 Maria Santos Gorrostieta, the mayor of Tiquicheo in Michoaca, a rural area west of Mexico City, was abducted while driving her daughter to school.
Witnesses say Gorrostieta, who survived two previous assassination attempts, pleaded with her abductors to let her daughter go free before willingly giving herself up. Her body was found eight days later, bound, stabbed, battered, and burned.
Gorrostieta was described as a modern-day female hero, a vocal opposition presence to the Mexican drug cartels that have plagued the nation for years.
Since 2006, when then-President Felipe Calderon took office and announced federal military opposition to cartels, more than 47,500 have died as a result of gang violence. During that time, some 5,300 people went missing and more than 9,000 bodies have gone unidentified. A new president, Pena Nieto, has been less outspoken since taking office this summer.
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