West Kelowna  

Begging for their lives

Jessica and Trevor Aitken's trip to Mexico turned into a terrifying experience where they were kidnapped, robbed, held at gunpoint and left begging for their lives.

The two recently travelled to Mazatlán to surprise Trevor’s parents who were vacationing in a gated community condo. The community was filled with Canadian snowbirds who had driven down to Mexico for the winter. 

On March 20, the couple took off with Trevor’s parents in their Jeep Grand Cherokee to El Quelite, a well-known day-trip for tourists, located about 40 kilometres outside of Mazatlán.

Trevor’s parents, Jim and Carol, had driven their 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee to Mexico from Ontario in January and were planning on staying until the end of April at their rented condo.

The four had lunch with another Canadian couple who had driven their own Jeep to El Quelite.

“We were driving and our friends were a couple of cars ahead of us, when a Rav4 cut us off,” he said. “They blocked the road, there was no where to go, there was a ditch on either side. Then four armed men with assault rifles and bullet proof vests jumped out. They started banging on the windows and pointing guns at us.”

The men threatened to shoot out the windows so Trevor and his father, who were both in the front seats, unlocked the doors and were dragged from the vehicle.

“They forced us into their vehicle, threw us in the back seat. Jess and my mom were left in our vehicle and two men stayed with them. Then the Jeep took off and we followed in the Rav4.”

Trevor estimates they drove off of the highway for about seven kilometres on a dirt road. Separated from her husband Jessica feared for her and Carol’s safety, as they were alone with the two men.

“They drove us into a field, and let Jess and my mom get out of my dad’s vehicle and they put them in the vehicle with us. Two of them took off in the Jeep, we think they wanted the Jeep,” Trevor explained.

The family sat for almost an hour and a half in the vehicle while the gunmen argued outside on the phone with someone in Spanish.

“They forced us out of the vehicle, and at this point they had already taken all of our jewelry, cash, cellphones and everything we had packed for our day trip in our vehicle,” said Trevor.

“Then one of them left in the Rav4 and went and picked up the other two guys who had taken the Jeep. We were left with one guy who was pointing the gun at us.”

When the gunmen returned they had a cellphone on speaker, where a man could be heard yelling in English demanding more money or they would all be shot.

“That’s when they forced me to the ground and put me on my knees and held the gun to the back of my head,” Trevor explained. He said he thought that was it, his life was over, and he would be killed in front of his wife and parents.

Praying aloud Jessica began begging the gunmen to release her husband.

“Carol was holding my hands and telling me to just do whatever they say and that we should stay quiet,” said Jessica.

All of the sudden one of the gunmen started to yell ‘La Familia’ over and over, which for some reason calmed the situation.

Trevor and Jim were pushed into the back of the Rav4, while Jessica and Carol sat in the front seats and were driven out of the field back to the highway.

“They just let us go on the side of the highway,” said Jessica. “It was about 5 p.m. at this time so this happened to us in broad daylight.”

Shaken and terrified the four managed to wave down a vehicle, whose driver happened to be an off-duty police officer. The officer helped the family get water and called for help, which took a long time to arrive, leaving them vulnerable on the side of the road.

Finally they were taken back to their condo, and were told to go to the police department the following day for a statement.

“My parents will never go back, they had planned to go to Mazatlán again next year, but now they are done with Mexico,” said Trevor. “I might go back, but I won’t ever take a vehicle.”

Jessica and Trevor realize that bad things can happen anywhere, and while the police were friendly they were not helpful.

“There will never be justice for what happened,” said Jessica. “There was no real help for us, and this was a very serious thing that happened to us. People need to know when your life is put in jeopardy it’s scary, and you don’t think it can happen to you but it can.”

Mazatlán is located in the state of Sinaloa, which is currently home to Sinaloa Cartel, often described as the largest and most powerful drug trafficking organization in the Western Hemisphere, according to insightcrime.org.

Currently there is no advisory for Canadians against travelling to Mexico; however the government does advise tourists to exercise a high degree of caution at this time.

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