Canadian tourists were trapped inside a Mexican hotel Thursday as buses that were supposed to take them to an airport and safely home burned outside.
“It’s just chaos,” said Tina Dahl of Edmonton, whose six family members stranded in the popular tourist city of Mazatlan were supposed to fly out Thursday night.
The federal government advised Canadians in Mexico to limit their movements and shelter in place due to violence in the western part of the country.
The violence began after a pre-dawn security operation on Thursday, in which security forces captured alleged drug trafficker Ovidio Guzman, who is a son of former cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Ottawa said the violence is particularly fierce in Culiacan, Mazatlan, Los Mochis and Guasave.
Dahl’s brother, sister-in-law, their three children and her sister-in-law’s mother are all trapped in their hotel room, she said.
“They’re supposed to come back today, but they’re stuck in their hotel because the three buses that were supposed to go to the airport got lit on fire by the (drug) cartel,” Dahl said.
“There was a shootout at the airport so the airports are shut down and the cartel put their warriors outside the hotel. I just know my brother and his family are stuck in the hotel right now.”
Dahl has no phone line through to the hotel, she said. But she has been able to communicate with her family through Facebook.
“Sounds like they’re all OK,” she said.
“(They are) obviously shaken. Just from reading between the lines of the texts and such, they’re pretty shaken.”
The children are ages 10, 8 and 7.
“I’m sure my brother’s probably got (the kids) at the pool, trying to keep them not (focused) on it,” Dahl said.
Dahl quoted from a note written by her sister-in-law: “When it first happened, they said we’d try and get you on a flight at 2 o’clock tomorrow.
“I don’t think they’ll be flying home tomorrow. The gates are locked, the airports are closed and they’re burning Mazatlan city.
“The lobby is full of people that were supposed to fly out and if they’re not out by 5 p.m. they’re kicking them out. These people can’t go out in the streets if there’s buses burning out front and the cartel’s there.”
Canadian officials said on Twitter that cars had been lit on fire, guns were being fired and there was a threat to essential infrastructure, including airports. The Culiacan and Mazatlan airports were closed and all flights had been suspended at the Los Mochis airport until further notice.
The violence comes days before President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador was to host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden at a summit in Mexico City.