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The Globe and Mail

Mexican police investigating death of Canadian in Puerto Vallarta

Duane Lang's last trip to Mexico wasn't his first: The Regina man had visited the country many times in the past.

But on July 28, he was found dead in his rented room in Puerto Vallarta. According to local media reports, he had suffered multiple stab wounds to his chest and neck.

Mr. Lang, 46, ran an insurance company with his father, Joe, and his sister Les. An obituary that ran Friday and Saturday in Regina's Leader-Post described him as a recreational painter, cook and writer and quoted a poem he wrote in 2002 – Conclusion.

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Police in Puerto Vallarta, a popular tourist destination on Mexico's west coast, wouldn't comment on the ongoing investigation when reached by The Globe and Mail.

Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ian Trites wouldn't say anything about the nature of Mr. Lang's death, except to note that a Canadian citizen had been "killed in Mexico."

"The Canadian Embassy in Mexico City and the Canadian Consular Agency in Puerto Vallarta are in contact with local authorities to gather additional information," Mr. Trites wrote in an e-mail.

The department's advisory page for Canadians travelling to Mexico warns them to "exercise a high degree of caution, especially in those parts of the country experiencing a deteriorating security situation." But it also notes that "more than 1.5 million Canadians travel to Mexico each year, the vast majority of them without incident," and "most major tourist areas have not been affected by the extreme levels of violence in the northern region."

Many expatriate Canadians and Americans living in Mexico argue the country is safe as long as you avoid anyone involved in the drug trade; it's tourists who travel intending to party hardy or abuse illegal substances who are more likely to get caught up in something more sinister, they say.

For some Canadians, that reassurance isn't enough to assuage fears surrounding ongoing drug violence and the deaths of several Canadians in the country over the past several months.

Jim Coffey has been taking busloads of people to Mexico on whitewater rafting trips for 17 years. But he says the country he loves – where both his wife and their 17-month-old son were born – is more violent than it's ever been. For now, his company Esprit Rafting Adventures will be taking winter tours to Costa Rica, instead.

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"How would I live with myself if I was in charge of a group and I knew that it was somewhat sketchy … then something bad happens? I couldn't live with that," he said. "We run adventure tours. which have a certain element of risk. We can mitigate those risks. … We can't necessarily mitigate the risks [of being] in the wrong place at the wrong time."

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