California woman shot dead in Mexican resort town popular with Americans

California woman shot dead in Mexican resort town popular with Americans
California woman shot dead in Mexican resort town popular with Americans

Local reports attempted to connect the alleged dealer and the victim as a couple. An American woman died in the crossfire of an apparent drug deal gone bad at a popular Mexican beach resort in the municipality of Tulum. 

The Quintana Roo State Attorney General’s Office opened an investigation into the Feb. 9 incident, which saw the death of an alleged drug dealer from Belize and an American woman, later identified as 44-year-old Los Angeles native Niko Honarbakhsh, according to ABC News. 

The once-tranquil resort city of Tulum has been the site of several drug-related shootouts that claimed the lives of tourists.
The once-tranquil resort city of Tulum has been the site of several drug-related shootouts that claimed the lives of tourists.

The dead man had cocaine and “transparent bags with red and orange pills” as well as bags with “brown granulated powder” in his possession when he was killed, leading the prosecutor’s office to determine that he was likely a drug dealer and part of a gang. 

Local reports tried to connect the pair and indicated they were involved in a relationship, but the prosecutor’s office dismissed these reports as inaccurate, according to a statement. 

An American woman was killed in a shootout in the Mexican resort area of Tulum on Feb. 9, 2024. (Daniel Gastaldi/picture alliance via Getty Images)
An American woman was killed in a shootout in the Mexican resort area of Tulum on Feb. 9, 2024. (Daniel Gastaldi/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Prosecutors maintain that Honarbakhsh died as a result of a stray bullet. Both bodies will undergo autopsies as part of the investigation. 

Prosecutors have identified suspects and have started pursuing leads to apprehend them. None of the suspects have been named.

A unit of the Mexican Army patrols the streets of Tulum, Quintana Roo state, Mexico on Jan. 31, 2023. Los Angeles native Niko Honarbakhsh, 44, was shot dead in Tulum on Feb. 9, 2024, according to ABC News. (David Gannon/AFP via Getty Images)
A unit of the Mexican Army patrols the streets of Tulum, Quintana Roo state, Mexico on Jan. 31, 2023. Los Angeles native Niko Honarbakhsh, 44, was shot dead in Tulum on Feb. 9, 2024, according to ABC News. (David Gannon/AFP via Getty Images)

Other tourists in recent years have died in gang-related crossfire in Tulum. Two such tourists, which included a California travel blogger and a German, were killed in 2021 while eating in a restaurant after rival drug dealers started shooting each other. 

Tulum is located south of Cancun and just a few hours north of the border with Belize, which also sits on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. 

A front view during the inauguration of the Tulum International Airport on Dec. 1, 2023 in Tulum, Mexico, which is a popular resort area for Americans. (Medios y Media/Getty Images)
A front view during the inauguration of the Tulum International Airport on Dec. 1, 2023 in Tulum, Mexico, which is a popular resort area for Americans. (Medios y Media/Getty Images)

The U.S. last year issued “Do Not Travel” warnings for parts of Mexico ahead of the popular March spring break travel period, citing gang violence and noting that U.S. citizens have “become seriously ill or died in Mexico after using synthetic drugs or adulterated prescription pills.” 

Cartel members kidnapped four Americans who traveled across the border seeking cosmetic surgery, but two of the Americans and an innocent Mexican bystander died during a shootout. 

The U.S. State Department did not respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment by time of publication.