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2 Canadians Killed At Playa Del Carmen Resort Were Both Tied To Organized Crime

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Suspect Is Still On The Run

Shocking scenes unfolded at Hotel Xcaret in Playa del Carmen yesterday, as a man opened fire in the middle of the resort. Two Canadian men have been confirmed dead, and another guest in the hotel was injured.

The event marks the next in a series of high-profile incidents involving firearms in the Quintana Roo region. In this case, the two men were reported to have been walking with the attacker moments before aggression broke out.

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A chilling CCTV video looking over the resort hears five gunshots ring out before the guests begin to flee in panic. Other footage shows a man in a grey tracksuit holding a gun. The killer is still at large and is reported to have fled into the jungle growth behind the resort.

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The deceased men have been identified as wanted criminals with ties to organized crime in Canada. 

One of the men, named Robert Dinh (Conh Dinh), was identified as wanted for money laundering in Canada in 2019. The Canadian police offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who could help lead to his arrest after he fled the country allegedly to Vietnam in 2013.

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He was allegedly involved with a Vietnamese crime group based in Canada and stood accused of laundering millions of dollars from drug money through his illegal channels. The drug network he was involved in funneled cocaine and other substances in the Southern United States as well as Northern Canada. 

Thomas Cherukara, also a Canadian citizen, was the other man executed. Cherukara also has a criminal background. One instance found online in 2015 saw him arrested as part of a drug bust founded on a two-month undercover operation. He and five others were arrested, while $100,000 of cocaine, MDMA, and phenacetin was seized from their hold.

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On top of this instance, he was linked to robberies, illegal possession of weapons, false identities, and property crime.

In other tragic events in the past few months, gang activity saw two tourists killed in the crossfire between gangs as well as another gang execution on a crowded beach, prompting the government to install a new branch of the National Guard to help protect the area and quell any tourist concerns. The security detail patrolling the area has been largely successful, and their presence has generally made residents feel safe.

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Tourist deaths are still extremely low in the area, and despite the shocking nature of the attacks, the vast majority of the violence taking place is in the tourist areas is still very much contained to circles involved in crime.

Although the most recent event happened in broad daylight and in a busy resort, it is important to remember the context of the violence and the people involved. No motive has been released for the killing, especially with the attacker still on the run, but fair speculation would lead to criminal activity between the parties involved.

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Homicide rates in Mexico are an intimidating statistic to see for those who are justifiably troubled by some of the recent violence experienced in the area. But the likelihood of any violence directed at a tourist who is not involved in any drug or crime in the area is still incredibly low. 

The government’s choice to bring the National Guard into the area was a sensible one, but it must be remembered the purpose of their presence was not to necessarily defend the tourists. The tourists are not the intended targets. Their presence is designed to deescalate criminal activity, making the tragic instances where tourists wind up hurt even less likely.

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Tourists looking to head to the area in the coming weeks should exercise caution. American tourists continue to be a large source of income for drug dealers in the region.

Updates on the whereabouts of the attacker will be announced as they come in.

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