Investigators are trying to determine whether model and beauty queen Maria Susana Flores, who died in a shootout with the Mexican army over the weekend, was involved with a drug cartel, Sinaloa state Attorney General Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez said.

The 22-year-old Flores was killed in the shootout early Saturday in Mocorito, a city in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

The beauty queen was with her boyfriend, who officials said may have been one of the subjects who attacked an army patrol.

"The information we have is that she was with a group of criminals who clashed with army troops," Higuera Gomez said.

Two soldiers died in the shootout and four suspected gunmen were arrested and handed over to federal prosecutors, Higuera Gomez said.

"At the site where the young woman's body was found, an AK-47 was found very close to her, so it will be the Attorney General's Office that determines the extent of her participation in this criminal act," the state AG said.

Flores won the Sinaloa Woman contest and competed in the Our Sinaloa Beauty contest, which she did not win.

The funeral home where Flores's body was taken is being guarded by army troops.

This is not the first time that a Mexican beauty queen has been linked to drug traffickers.

Laura Elena Zuñiga, who won Our Sinaloa Beauty in 2008, was arrested along with seven men on firearms and money laundering charges on Dec. 23, 2008, in Zapopan, a city in the western state of Jalisco.

The beauty queen was released a few weeks later because prosecutors could not find sufficient evidence to put her on trial.

Zuñiga's story inspired director Gerardo Naranjo's 2011 film "Miss Bala."

Sinaloa is home to the drug cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman, but other criminal organizations, including the Los Zetas and Beltran Leyva cartels, also operate in the area.

The Sinaloa cartel, sometimes referred to by officials as the Pacific cartel, is the oldest drug cartel in Mexico. EFE