Skip to content

Former Red Deer city councillor waits for flight out of Mexico, amid cartel violence

Jeffrey Dawson and his wife were supposed to return home on Friday
A truck burns after being set on fire on a street in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023. Mexican security forces captured Ovidio Guzmán, an alleged drug trafficker wanted by the United States and one of the sons of former Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in a pre-dawn operation Thursday that set off gunfights and roadblocks across the western state’s capital. (AP Photo/Martin Urista)

Former Red Deer city councillor Jeffrey Dawson is among hundreds of Canadian tourists trapped in Mexican resorts amid cartel violence.

Dawson said he and his wife Bev were expecting to fly home on Friday afternoon and had checked out of their room at 11 a.m. But soon all departing guests were told no planes would be leaving the Mazatlan airport.

The Dawsons were advised to check back into their rooms and stay away from the resort’s fences and perimeters.

According to the latest email from Sunwing, there’s supposed to be a flight back to Canada on Saturday, said Dawson. Patrons were told the company is working with the Canadian government “to arrange for our safe return,” added the 55-year-old, who expects to hear more at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Armed guards have been stationed at the resort’s gates since Thursday, noted Dawson, who noticed serious understaffing at the site since many Mexicans are hunkering down at home.

There were lineups to restaurants for the first time on Thursday as three of the five resort eateries were closed due to under-staffing, he added.

The Canadian government is advising all Canadians in Mexico to shelter indoors after an explosion of cartel violence in the Western part of the country on Thursday.

While “there are worse places to be stranded,” Dawson admitted it’s unsettling to hear of what’s happening outside resort perimeters in the City of Mazatlan and other nearby centres.

The Canadian Press reported alleged cartel members were carjacking residents and settling vehicles ablaze as roadblocks over the arrest of alleged drug trafficker Ovidio (The Mouse) Guzman, a son of former cartel boss Joaquin (El Chappo) Guzman.

On Thursday, two passenger aircraft were fired upon.

The Dawsons have seen no violence or car burning, since their resort is about a 10-minute drive from Mazatlan city. The couple are getting most of their information about the unrest from friends sending them links to Canadian news stories.

Dawson, a four-term former city councillor who left municipal politics in 2007, said he’s seen nothing about the situation on Mexico’s Spanish language news stations — while U.S. stations CNN and Fox News were focusing on the political impasse over the election of the Republican house speaker.

Amazingly, this is not the first time he is encountering overseas unrest while vacationing.

Dawson recalled being in Venezuela during the attempted coupe of 1992. Having rebuffed the first offer of a flight out of the country because he hadn’t heard revolutionaries were attempting to overthrow the Venezuelan government, Dawson said he left the next week on what turned out to be a Canadian rescue flight.

For now, he’s making the best of being in a place with nicer weather and hoping to get a flight out on Saturday, as planned.

Meanwhile, Dawson has lined up replacements to fill in for him in his job as casino advisor in case things don’t go to plan.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
Read more