American Woman in Mexican Resort Town Is Killed in Crossfire Between Rival Gangs

Local prosecutors said evidence collected at the scene showed the woman had no connection to the dispute that led to the shooting

<p>Getty</p> Crime Scene Tape


Crime Scene Tape

A Los Angeles woman was shot and killed last week in the Mexican resort city of Tulum after local officials believe she got caught in the crossfire of a drug-related shootout.

ABC News identified the victim as Niko Honarbakhsh, a native of Los Angeles who was living in Cancun. She was 44 years old.

The Quintana Roo State Attorney General’s Office said in a press release that the shooting took place on February 9 at a beach club in Tulum, a resort city in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. Officials said two people – a woman, later identified by ABC News as Honarbakhsh, and a man suspected of being a drug dealer – were killed in the shooting.

There is an ongoing investigation into their deaths, according to the local attorney general’s office. The office said investigators found baggies that appeared to contain drugs on the man who was killed, including bags of cocaine and pills.

It’s not yet clear what led to the shooting, but the local Riviera Maya News outlet reported over the weekend that the two people were killed during an exchange of gunfire between gang members in a hotel.

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The U.S. State Department has warned travelers visiting Quintana Roo to “exercise increased caution due to crime” in the area.

“Criminal activity and violence may occur in any location, at any time, including in popular tourist destinations,” the U.S. State Department says in a travel advisory, adding that “while not directed at tourists, shootings between rival gangs have injured innocent bystanders.”

Local officials said Honarbakhsh was just that: An innocent bystander.

The local attorney general’s office disputed early misreporting in the region that initially claimed Honarbakhsh and the other man killed in the shooting were a couple.

In the press release, prosecutors said evidence found on the man’s phone shows that they had no connection to one another, discovering photos of him with another woman and no photos of him and Honarbakhsh together, saying the evidence indicated to investigators that she had no connection to the dispute that led to the shooting.

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