Canadians Killed in Mexico

Violent crimes occur everywhere, this is not the problem. There are places more dangerous than others. The important thing is to have the proper information, to accept the risk and act accordingly. If someone tells us that he’s going to Iraq, or in any other war zone, we tend to assumes that he understands the risks and takes the necessary precautions. Before going in a country where, de facto, a civil war is raging, where anarchy starts to reign and where one has 7 times more chance to be killed violently than in Canada, it is essential to think of it twice. Even more when tourists are targets in the country they visit to spend a good time.

The way in which such a situation is handled is also a determining factor and a potentially very shocking one. Even more if it’s a country that is (supposed to be) a democracy that embraces free market economy. A country that belongs in the G20, that’s part of the NAFTA and show a façade of modernity. To use a term, considered retrograde by some, an expression defined in the cold war, when the smoke screen dissipates, we have purely and simply a Third World country. To be a little bit more “politically correct”, a developing country. The more opinionated even define Mexico as a banana republic.

A massive rise of Canadian murdered in Mexico has been observed since the murder of the Ianerio’s couple in Cancún in February 2006. Let us note that not all murders are reported in the media. Some are never reported, or are only months after the crime. It was the case for the murder of Réal Lemieux reported more than 4 months after the facts.

On November 16, 2010, the National Post reported that according to the Department of Foreign Affairs, 112 Canadian died a violent death in Mexico since the beginning of the war on the cartels in 2006.

We will write only about the publicly reported case of Canadian murdered in Mexico since 2006. To include the aggressions, assaults and the murders of American would make the reading difficult and long. A simple search on the Internet makes it possible to assess the magnitude of this problematic situation.

Here’s a list of some murders, suspicious death (probable murders and criminal negligence) of Canadians since the slaying of the Ianerio’s couple:

February 20, 2006: Cancún, Quintana Roo.
Dominic Ianiero, 59 years and Nancy Ianiero, 55 years, of Woodbridge, Ontario.
Official version: Two Canadian killed them in their hotel room and flew out of the country. Speculations on the implication of the couple in drug trafficking, then gambling debts were made. Their son was also suspected. They both had their throat cut. They were in Mexico to attend the wedding of their daughter.
Reality: No ties with drug or organized crime, nor any gambling debts. The two Canadian initially suspected were cleared. On July 5, 2009, a warrant for a suspect was finally issued
Status: Unsolved. The lawyer of the family, Edward Greespan, denounced on numerous occasion the lies and public contradictions of the public prosecutor of the State in this case.
January 7, 2007: Acapulco, Guerrero.
Adam DePrisco, 19 years, of Woodbridge, Ontario.
Official version: “hit-and-run” by a car.
Reality: Blunt force trauma on the head only, consistent with aggression and blows giving death. Getting hit by a car usually involved injuries in other “more exposed to a car” part of the body.
Status: Unsolved.
May 6, 2007: Cancún, Quintana Roo.
Jeff Toews, 34 years, of Large Meadow, Alberta.
Official version: a fall from the second story balcony of his hotel room.
Reality: beaten death, survived in the hospital, brain dead, a few days on life support. 4 traumas to the cranium and wounds to the back.
Status: Unsolved.
November 27, 2007: Hotel zone, Cancún, Quintana Roo.
Christopher Morin, 30 years, Okotoks, Alberta.
Official version: The tourist consumed illegal substances and that influenced his decision to commit suicide by jumping of the balcony of his hotel.
Reality: Murder following an argument.
Status: In spite of witnesses, unsolved.
January 28, 2008: Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.
Josh Iwasiuk, 19 years, of Selkirk, Manitoba.
Official version: fallen from the balcony of the 10th story.
Reality: Only one trauma to the back of the head, inconsistent with the official story. A possible aggression gone bad.
Status: Unsolved.
May 15, 2008: Cabo San Luca, Baja California On.
Bouabal Bounthavorn, 29 years, of Burnaby, British-Columbia.
Botched robbery, shot 3 times. This time, the Canadian government made pressures.
September 17, 2009: Isla Muejeres, Qunitana Roo.
Renee Wathelet, 60 years, of Montreal, Quebec.
Official versions: self-defense; crime of passion; botched robbery; finally, she did not give enough money to her mentally ill orphan gigolo.
Reality: mobile still unknown, possible robbery. The investigation continues.
January 16, 2010: Zipolite, Oaxaca.
Réal Lemieux, 71 years, of Montreal, Quebec.
Official version: various possible mobiles, robbery, heinous crime, crime of passion, revenge or a bad meeting. Just like in the case of the other victims, the Mexican authorities depict him in an outrageously defamatory way.
June 9, 2010 : Piedras Negras, Coahuila.
Kenneth Klowak, 43 years, of Orangeville, Ontario.
Shot to death in an attempted car jacking.
His family denounced the lack of support from the Canadian officials.
September 10, 2010 : Cancún, Quintana Roo.
Giannina Di Roberto, 19 years, of Kitchener, Ontario.
Official version: Committed suicide by jumping of the seventh floor balcony of her hotel, Riu Caribe. She was vacationing with her boyfriend.
Her family denounced the lack of support from the Canadian officials. Technically not a murder, but another balcony death in Cancún. On june 16, 2010, Adam Pemberton from Keighley died at the same hotel when he falled from the balcony. To be followed…
October 30, 2010 : Chilpancingo, Guerrero.
Daniel Dion, 51 years, of Ottawa, Ontario, native of Sherbrooke, Québec.
A few days after its disappearance, members of his family that went to Mexico to search for him find its beaten corpse in the trunk of its burnt rented car. The family denounces the inaction of the Canadian authorities. To be followed…

Facebook page by the family concerning the case.

On November 14, 2010, an explosion at the Grand Riviera Princess, Playa Del Carmen, killed five Canadian, two Mexican workers and injured 17. At first, the Mexican authorities came with a geological explanation to the explosion. An investigation by the CBC proved it was criminal negligence and showed everything had been done to cover it up. A homicide inquiry was opened by the Mexican authorities.
Christopher & John Charmont, 41 & 9 years, of Drumheller, Alberta. Malcolm Johnson, 33 years, Nanaimo, British-Columbia. He was there for his wedding.
Darlene Ferguson, 51 years, of Ardrossan, Alberta. A mother of three, she was there for the wedding of her daugther. Elgin Barron, 52 years, Guelph, Ontario.
February 21, 2011 : San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato.
Debbie McKeen, of Vancouver, British-Columbia.
Found dead in her hotel room. The hotel denies a gas leak could be the cause. Since the explosion in Playa Del Carmen, hotel infrastructure in Mexico came into the spotlight as yet another treat to tourist lives. Unlike the explosion in Grand Riviera Princess, no criminal investigation has been reported
May 3, 2011 : Mexico City, D.F.
Joel St. Tierre, 35 years, Canadian.
Shot in the dead.
May 30, 2011 : Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.
Len Patrick Schell, 62 years, of Penicton, British-Columbia.
Stabbed to death in his home. Around 15 000$ was reportedly stolen.
June 26, 2011 : San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato.
Judith Zena Baylis, 64 years, of Ottawa, Ontario.
Stabbed more than twenty times in her home. No suspect has been arrested. Investigation seems to point toward possible robbery of an inside job from an employee/former employee.

Interestingly, from May 6, 2007 to January 28, 2008 (with a light recrudescence in 2010), the trend was falling from balconies. Maybe the hit-and-run theory of the prior murder was not satisfactory from the protection of tourism angle. Also, it is normal in Mexico to publish photographs of the crime scenes and the corpses. Thus if you die a tragic death in Mexico, in addition to get your name and reputation throw in a puddle of mud to the eyes of the world, your close ones and friends can see, in great details, the violence and indescribable horror of a bloody death. This was also an element largely criticized by families of the victims. Although the diplomatic authorities can generally prevent this type of publication, Canada does not intervene on any level in the affairs of another country.

Our first hand experience and the review of the various cases show a constant that emerges from these. First of all, the systematization of the blame on the victim, they are responsible for what it happened to them. Another constant is to depict the author of the crime (when the victim cannot be blamed directly), like a foreigner, or somebody of amoral/abnormal. Either it is a mentally ill individual, a member of the cartels and so on. Finally, the lack of good will and cooperation from the authorities of both countries in the pursuit of justice becomes obvious.

Unfortunately, we are not the first family to denounce this. Much time was needed to accept and digest this reality. Inside sources told us repeatedly : all the Mexican authorities want it is to silence this matter and to show that Quintana Roo, and more precisely Isla Mujeres,are safe places for tourists. Edward Greespan, lawyer of Ianiero’s, also denounced this situation.

Juan Francisco Rivera Bedoya, a Mexican federal congressman and former prosecutor who heads the national Public Safety Commission has already stated publicly this policy of the regime vis-a-vis the foreigners victims of crimes: “most American victims get killed after crossing the border to participate in illegal activities or venturing into unsafe areas. Tourists visiting cathedrals, museums and other cultural centers are not at risk”.

The last murder on Isla Mujeres goes back to July 13, 2003. The victim was an American who lived the island, Tammy Jenkins. The murderer entered her place to steal. She awoke, screamed and he struck it with a block of cement to the head to shut her up. He continued, thus erasing from existence her face, then the remainder of her cranium. He finally bailed out empty handed, in panic. He went to change his clothes, pack his bags and then to join his buddies to take the first boat in the morning as if nothing happened.

It is a friend of the victim who made the discovery of the body the following day. When he returned to the apartment after the passage of the police, he discovered they finished made the job in place of the assassin, as its common practice. The murderer was found a few days later and is now in prison. Since he did not have a criminal record, he was condemned to 21 years in prison. The justice system of Mexico did work in a not so distant past, at least a little better than today.

What’s really at stakes in this situation is the protection of tourism. Justice is only an accessory. In spite of repeated requests to the Canadian authorities, nothing is done. How can someone ask victims of crime, already heavily marked by violent events, who are left by themselves out on foreign soil, and who have to do the work of the police … to fight a regime which seeks to protect one from its primary industries. Wouldn’t the protection of tourism be better served by showing the justice system exists and really work? Can’t the Canadian foreign policy, strongly centered towards the economic imperatives, also be interested, a little nit, with the protection, the respect and the dignity of his citizens?

A must see, this excellent show of W-FIVE on CTV about Canadians murdered in Mexico.

The Web site also full of information on the subject.


Renee Wathelet Assassination »


  • Share/Bookmark

Leave a Reply