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Miss World Mexico's director was killed right after he crowned a new beauty queen

Hugo Rubén Castellanos was found shot dead in a jeep in the state of Sinaloa, where drug cartels have a long history with beauty contests.

by Nathaniel Janowitz
Aug 8 2016, 3:35pm

Photo via la page Facebook de Miss Mexique

The director of Miss World Mexico was shot dead this weekend after crowning the regional winner for the Northwestern state of Sinaloa.

Hugo Rubén Castellanos Jiménez named Melissa Carolina Lizárraga as Miss Sinaloa in the state capital of Culiacan on Saturday afternoon. Hours later, the police found the 35-year-old Castellanos dead in the back of a stolen black Jeep Cherokee.

The authorities have not revealed any link between the two events, although beauty pageants in Mexico have long had a connection to the drug world.

Sinaloa — which is the birthplace of many of Mexico's most famous drug traffickers and home to the notorious Sinaloa cartel — has a particularly checkered past with its beauty contests, though the victims have tended to be the participants.

María Susana Flores Gámez was killed in 2012 during a firefight between the military and armed gunmen when she was the reigning Miss Sinaloa in a separate pageant called Miss Woman. Although it is unclear why she was at the scene, Flores was reportedly the girlfriend of a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa cartel.

In 2008 authorities arrested another reigning Miss Sinaloa, this time from within the Miss Universe competition, Laura Zúñiga Huizar, with an alleged leader of the Juárez drug cartel. She was held for 40 days before being released for lack of evidence against her.

Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, leader of the Sinaloa cartel, married Emma Coronel, the winner of a small town pageant in the Sinaloan sierra, in 2007 on her 18th birthday. It is not clear whether the votes were influenced by the massive party that Chapo threw in her honor before the election.

Sinaloa has seen a rise in homicides in 2016. Various groups have been competing for turf in the state following the rearrest of El Chapo Guzmán in January, six months after he escaped from a maximum security penitentiary through a mile long tunnel that began in his cell.

Related: El Chapo's Beauty Queen Wife Says She Fears for His Life

Follow Nathaniel Janowitz on Twitter: @ngjanowitz

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VICE News
americas
BEAUTY PAGEANTS
Sinaloa
El Chapo
Hugo Rubén Castellanos Jiménez
Melissa Carolina Lizárraga
Emma Coronel