Culiacan, Mexico — A Mexican beauty queen who was killed over the weekend in a shootout between soldiers and drug traffickers was likely being used as a human shield, a federal official said Tuesday.
Maria Susana Flores Gamez, who was crowned the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa in February, came out of a car first holding a gun in her hands while the other gunmen hid behind her.
An official from the attorney general’s office said he read the military report on Saturday’s shootout in Flores Gamez’s hometown of Guamuchil in western Sinaloa state, which is home to Mexico’s most powerful cartel that goes by the same name.
The attorney general’s investigators are still trying to determine whether the 20-year-old beauty queen fired the gun she was holding.
Flores Gamez was found dead near an assault rifle along with two others.
“They used the woman as a human shield,” the official said.
The 5-foot-7 brunette competed against seven other competitors for the title of Miss Sinaloa, but didn’t win. Local media outlets, however, continue to misidentify Flores Gamez as Miss Sinaloa.
The organizers of the Miss Sinaloa pageant clarified that Florez Gamez was not their queen.
The misidentification “damages the image and tranquility of our queens, their families and friends,” a statement posted on their Facebook page said.
This wasn’t the first case of a beauty queen or pageant contestant becoming involved with drug traffickers.
“A lot of young women are attracted by the false riches of the drug gangs. They offer the fantasy of a life of riches without much work,” said Judith del Rincon, a women’s rights activist and former Sinaloa legislator. “A lot of beauty queens wind up as girlfriends of some narco.”
Sinaloa state prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera said the body of Maria Susana Flores Gamez had been turned over to her relatives for burial.