Ottawa tells Canadians to take shelter as violence erupts in Mexico’s Sinaloa state

Ottawa tells Canadians to take shelter as violence erupts in Mexico’s Sinaloa state

Reports of tourists taking refuge in hotels and setting fire to transfer buses in northwestern Mexico are surfacing as widespread gang-related violence erupted in select regions of Sinaloa state.

The Canadian government on Thursday (January 5) issued a travel advisory for Culiacan, Los Mochis, Guasave and the popular resort town of Mazatlán, urging Canadians at the destination to restrict movement and seek shelter.

Ottawa says there are “burning cars,” gunfire and threats to essential infrastructure — including airports.

Both Culiacan and Mazatlán airports are closed and all flights at Los Mochis Airport are suspended until further notice, the advisory said.

Mazatlán in particular is a popular vacation destination for many Canadians, with major tour operators such as Sunwing and WestJet Vacations offering sun packages there.

Cartel leader arrested

The disruption began after a pre-dawn security operation in which local forces arrested a suspected drug dealer who is a son of former cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, The Associated Press reported.

Ovidio Guzman, nicknamed “the Mouse,” was not one of El Chapo’s better-known sons until an aborted operation in which he was captured three years ago.

This attempt also sparked violence in Culiacan, which eventually prompted President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to order the military to let him go.

Thursday’s capture comes just days before Lopez Obrador will host US President Joe Biden for bilateral talks, followed by their summit of North American leaders with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canadians caught in the crossfire

The Canadian press has reported on an Edmonton family vacationing in Mazatlán who were due to fly home Thursday night when their airport transfer bus was set on fire by a drug cartel.

The family is reportedly doing well but is devastated by the incident as they have locked themselves in their hotel.

Aeromexico plane hit by gunfire

Reuters, meanwhile, reports a chaotic scene at Culiacan Airport, where cluster bullets hit an Aeromexico plane yesterday as it accelerated for takeoff.

As seen in a video posted online, passengers threw themselves to the ground when they heard shots that were reportedly aimed at a Mexican military plane nearby.

Aeromexico said in a statement that one of its jets was hit by a bullet Thursday morning, confirming passengers and crew were safe.

The bullet reportedly hit the fuselage of the plane.

Federal recommendations

Ottawa advises Canadians to avoid areas in Sinaloa where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place and not to cross roadblocks “even if they appear unattended.”

Travelers should allow extra time to reach their destination and also expect an increased security presence.

“If necessary, contact your airline or tour operator to change your travel arrangements,” the Canadian government noted.

Canadians requiring emergency consular assistance are encouraged to contact Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Center by phone at 001-800-514-0129 (toll-free from Mexico only), +1 613 996 8885, or by texting +1 613 -686-3658, by WhatsApp at +1 613-909-8881, by Telegram at Canada Emergency Abroad or by email at [email protected].

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