2012: The Most Outlandish Stories From the Drug War in Mexico

Last year, the Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo released a crackling art-house thriller,“Miss Bala,” about an aspiring beauty queen who becomes embroiled in the violent drug cartels of Tijuana. The premise of a willowy innocent caught in the crossfire had all the hallmarks of a telenovela, and some critics groused that the film was implausible.

But in the real-life maelstrom of Mexico’s drug war, a certain gaudy surrealism is not unusual. In fact, Naranjo had based the film on an actual incident, in 2008, in which a pageant winner from Sinaloa was arrested in the company of a gaggle of cartel strongmen. (She said that she had been kidnapped by her boyfriend, a member of the Juárez cartel.)

But if art imitated life in “Miss Bala,” life gained the upper hand again last month, when another beauty queen from Sinaloa, twenty-two-year-old Maria Susana Flores Gamez, was caught by a bullet during a shootout between cartel hit men and Mexican troops. This time, the story had an extraordinary twist: an AK-47 was recovered near Flores’s body, and she had gunpowder residue on her fingers. According to a federal prosecutor handling the case, she fired at the soldiers before she died. This Miss Sinaloa didn’t just fall in with the assassins, the allegation goes—she was one of them.

– Read the entire article at The New Yorker.