Canadian shot dead in Mexico
Mexican officials ID victim as Canadian citizen Salih Abdulaziz Sahbaz
A man shot dead on a street in the city of Culiacan in Sinaloa state has been identified as Salih Abdulaziz Sahbaz, a Canadian citizen originally from Iraq.
In an interview in Spanish, Gerardo Vargas Landeros, the secretary of state of Sinaloa, said Sahbaz had both a current and expired Canadian passport on his body when it was found Monday.
"The report I have indicates that he was up to no good," Landeros said.
"Of all those tourists who have come to enjoy Sinaloa, its beaches, everything we can provide, no one has ended up in trouble," he said. "This would be the occasion when someone comes with intentions that we cannot divulge right now, but …we can guarantee he wasn't coming as a tourist."
The Canadian Embassy and Foreign Affairs Department have both been contacted, said Martin Gastelum Zepeda, a communications co-ordinator with the attorney general's office in Sinaloa.
John Babcock of Canada's Ministry of State of Foreign Affairs confirmed the spelling of Sahbaz's name — which has appeared in the media with various spellings — but said the ministry could not confirm his age, how long he had been a citizen or where he was born.
Mexican officials had earlier said Sahbaz was 35 years old.
The Canadian government is in touch with local authorities and are providing consular assistance as required, Babcock said Tuesday.
According to Sinaloa state police, Sahbaz was shot with a high-powered weapon on Sunday close to midnight.
According to news reports from the area, the man was shot as many as nine times with a large-calibre weapon.
Officials have not provided a motive for his killing.
Sinaloa in northwest Mexico is home to the cartel led by Joaquin (El Chapo) Guzman, considered the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.
He is listed by Forbes as one of the most influential figures in the world and is believed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Guzman is now the most wanted man in the world, after the death of Osama bin Laden.
Canadian authorities have warned about violence related to organized crime in Sinaloa state, which sees about 100 killings per month. There has been a significant rise in armed confrontations between organized criminal groups and Mexican authorities in Sinaloa and nearby northwestern states, according to a travel warning from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
This has led to an increase in illegal roadblocks, robberies, kidnappings and carjackings in the larger northern cities in Mexico.
Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs issued a statement about the latest homicide: "Our thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of the victim. Our officials in Mazatlan are in contact with local authorities and stand ready to provide consular assistance during this difficult time."