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Everything B.C. travellers need to know about the 'widespread violence' in Mexico

On Thursday, at least two passenger airplanes were hit by gunfire.
The Mazatlan airport closed following violence in Sinaloa State after a cartel leader was captured in January 2023. WestJet and Sunwing cancelled flights.

Canada is warning travellers to avoid all non-essential travel to parts of Mexico due to widespread violence and threats to airports. 

Several airports were closed due to the ongoing violence and security operations in Sinaloa State, particularly in Culiacán, Mazatlan, Los Mochis, and Guasave.

There are also burning cars and exchanges of fire throughout the state, according to the advisory.

The violence erupted Thursday (Jan. 5) after security forces captured alleged drug trafficker Ovidio "The Mouse" Guzman, who is a son of former cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. 

Canadian tourists in Mazatlan remained barricaded in their hotel Friday amid violence in the streets.

Many travellers checked out of hotels but were forced to sleep in the lobbies after their flights were cancelled, according to Tina Dahl, an Edmonton woman with relatives stranded in the resort town. 

On Thursday, at least two passenger airplanes were hit by gunfire. Alleged cartel members were carjacking Culiacan residents and setting vehicles ablaze. 

What YVR travellers need to know 

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) wrote in a tweet that the Mazatlán International Airport (MZT) was closed, resulting in flight delays and cancellations. 

While the Government of Canada advises that the Culiacán and Mazatlán airports reopened Friday, Los Mochis airport remains closed and flight schedules have changed.  

Travellers should continue to check their flight status with their airline before heading to the airport.  

WestJet flight WS2043 departing at 7:09 p.m. headed from MZT to YVR has been cancelled, according to YVR's arrivals page.

Sunwing flight WG209 departing at 6:15 p.m. headed from YVR to MZT has been cancelled, according to YVR's departures page.

No Air Canada flights departing from Vancouver have been affected by the unrest. 

If you are in Sinaloa: 

  • limit your movements and shelter in place if possible
  • avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • don’t attempt to cross road blockades, even if they appear unattended
  • allow extra time to reach your destination
  • expect an increased presence of security forces
  • monitor local media for information on the evolving situation
  • follow the instructions of local authorities

Canada has warned travellers of increased levels of violence in Mexico for months, urging tourists to exercise a high of a high degree of caution.

In August 2022, the U.S. government warned that violent crime, including homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, was widespread and common in Mexico.

Find out more information about the updated travel advisory for Mexico with the Government of Canada.

With files from the Canadian Press.