The Federal Government has advised Canadians in Mexico to look for secure shelter after violence broke out in parts of the country over the arrest of a notorious cartel leader.
“There is widespread violence and security operations in Sinaloa State, particularly in Culiacan, Mazatlan, Los Mochis and Guasave since the arrest, on January 5, 2023, of a cartel leader,” the government’s travel advisory for Mexico reads.
“There are burning cars, exchanges of fire, and threat to essential infrastructure, including airports. The Culiacán and Mazatlán airports are closed and all flights are suspended at Los Mochis airport until further notice.”
The federal government is also warning Canadians against attempting to cross road blockades, even those that appear unattended, and says travellers should avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place.
The violence was unleashed after Mexican security forces arrested Ovidio Guzman, a son of jailed Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in a pre-dawn raid.
The incident set off gunfights and roadblocks across Sinaloa’s capital, Culiacan, the Associated Press reports.
Officials said Thursday that Ovidio Guzman was involved in all of the cartel’s activities, especially the production of fentanyl that has flowed into the U.S. The cartel is one of the world’s most powerful narcotics trafficking organizations.
Alleged cartel members responded to Thursday’s operation by carjacking Culiacan residents and setting vehicles ablaze in the cartel stronghold. Local and state authorities warned everyone to stay indoors.
Airline Aeromexico said in a statement that one of its jets was struck by a bullet Thursday morning as it prepared for takeoff. Passenger video posted online showed people cowering on the floor of the plane. The company said passengers and crew were safe.
Mexico’s Civil Aviation Agency said in a statement that an air force plane in Culiacan had also been hit with gunfire. In addition to the Culiacan airport, the agency said airports in Los Mochis and Mazatlan were also ordered closed and all flights cancelled for security reasons.
Those in Mexico who are in need of emergency consular assistance are being told to contact Global Affairs Canada’s Emergency Watch and Response Centre.
This can be done by calling 001-800-514-0129 (toll-free from Mexico only), +1 613 996 8885, by text message at +1 613-686-3658, via WhatsApp at +1 613-909-8881, via Telegram at Canada Emergency Abroad or by emailing email@example.com.