Death of a Model – Part I
In February this year Maria Susana Flores Gamez (20) was voted the 2012 Woman of Sinaloa in a beauty pageant. In June, the model competed with other seven contestants for the more prestigious state beauty contest, Our Beauty Sinaloa, but didn't win. The Our Beauty state winners compete for the Miss Mexico title, whose holder represents the country in the international Miss Universe.
Last Saturday the slender and beautiful Mexican model was gunned down in a shootout between soldiers and a drug gang. The shootout started when the drug gang engaged an army patrol with gunshots. The soldiers chased the gang, and some of them where cornered in a safe house in the town of Mocorito.
The rest of the gang got away but the gun battle continued along a nearby roadway, where the gang's vehicles were eventually stopped. It was probably here that Maria Susanas body was found afterwards. She lay dead alongside with an assault rifle. According to the chief state prosecutor in Sinaloa it was unclear if she had used the weapon.
There are many possibilities here, and the gun could have been placed beside her, to justify the killing of the girl. But she was travelling together with the drug gang, and it has been disclosed several times earlier in Mexico (and other Latin American countries) links between beauty pageants and violent drug gangs. These relations are also described in the prize winning Mexican movie Miss Bala (2011).
Anyway it was the end of the road for beautiful Maria Susana Flores Gamez. A young life ended with no meaning at all – but so tragically common in the Mexican drug violence.
The state prosecutor Marco Antonio Higuera says that her body has been turned over to relatives for burial. "This is a sad situation," Higuera told a local radio station. She had been enrolled in media courses at a local university, and had been modeling and in pageants since at least 2009.
Javier Valdez, the author of a 2009 book about narco ties to beauty pageants entitled "Miss Narco," said "this is a recurrent story."
"There is a relationship, sometimes pleasant and sometimes tragic, between organized crime and the beauty queens, the pageants, the beauty industry itself," Valdez said. "It is a question of privilege, power, money, but also a question of need," said Valdez. "For a lot of these young women, it is easy to get involved with organized crime, in a country that doesn't offer many opportunities for young people."
Sometimes drug traffickers seek out beauty queens, but sometimes the models themselves look for narco boyfriends, Valdez said.
The stories about the beauties that ends up with the drug gangsters, seldom ends well. They usually end up in hand cuffs and jail or killed in shootouts like this. Or the most common outcome – they just disappear.