California woman shot dead in Mexican resort town popular with Americans

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 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. 

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


The Tulum temple overlooking the beach on the Yucatan Peninsula. (Photo by philippe giraud/Corbis via Getty Images)

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

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. 

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. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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