Mexican Robbers Kill Canadian Snowbird

Canadians vacationing in Mexico this season need to be vigilant in the wake of news that a 67-year-old snowbird from Salt Spring Island, B.C. was shot and killed during a home robbery in the Pacific coast town of Melaque, a destination area favoured by retired Canadian seniors.

According to international media reports, Robin Wood, a retired gas station owner and mechanic was shot January 3, when robbers invaded the home in which he was staying with a friend, Arvid Chalmers, a well-known realtor on Salt Spring Island.

According to the CBC, the local police director said that robberies and murders are quite common in the area, approximately halfway between Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco.

To date, more than 40,000 Mexicans and some foreigners—many of them innocent bystanders– have been killed by warring drug cartels and law enforcement officials since 2006 when the government purportedly launched its war on drug trafficking.

Mexican tourism officials have adamantly claimed that the drug wars have not affected tourists or tourism, although local and international media on site strongly dispute such claims and add that the death toll is far higher than the 36,000 claimed by government sources. Some non-government sources claim well over 50,000 citizens—among them tourists—have been killed by the drug gangs since 2006.

The tourist rich Pacific Coast area north of Acapulco has been hard hit by drug gang violence in recent years and it has not left North American expatriates and senior vacation communities unscathed.  In fact, on January 11, 2011—just one year ago, Canadian snowbird Mike DiLorenzo, 69, from Penticton, B.C., was caught in a hail of bullets from an AK47 assault rifle and seriously injured in Mazatlan while walking from a shopping plaza to his hotel on an otherwise peaceful Sunday afternoon.

Mr. DiLorenzo survived the attack which officials attributed to drug cartel conflicts in the area.

From all indications, tourism numbers to Mexico have not been seriously affected by the continuing violence but government travel advisories issued by Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. (which can be accessed from our homepage) have all issued warnings about travel to many parts of Mexico.  We strongly suggest that before making any plans to visit Mexico, for leisure or business, you consult these advisories and take them seriously.

Also, make sure you are well covered by travel insurance when venturing into any part of Mexico, from Cancun and the Mexican Riviera in the east, to the Pacific coast in the west, and especially in the northern areas bordering Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

(Late Update)

Second Canadian Found Murdered in Mexico.

The body of a PhD student from the University of British Columbia has been found partially buried in the sands of the Mexican beach town of Huatulco, a resort area southeast of Acapulco. On Thursday, January 5, police reported having found Ximena Osegueda Magana’s body after she went missing earlier in December. According to a CBC report, Ms. Magana was found stabbed and strangled with her hands tied behind her back on Punta Arena Beach along with her partner Alejandro Santamaria in a slaying local news media say may be linked to organized crime. Police report both bodies had been set afire, making their identification difficult.

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