Canadian organized-crime groups have forged links with Mexican outlaws in an attempt to secure a direct supply of cocaine and increase their profits by eliminating the middleman, says the RCMP.
An internal analysis by the Mounties notes that since 2008 at least 10 Canadians have been shot or killed in Mexico under circumstances suggesting involvement with local criminal elements.
Some were known to be active in drug trafficking in Canada and all had extensive criminal backgrounds, says the RCMP analysis.
A copy of the May 2012 assessment, which takes a close look at the influence of corruption, and a related review of the implications for Canada — both heavily censored — were released to The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
The Mounties say global borders have become blurred with the proliferation of transnational organized crime.
As a result, Canadian criminal networks have expanded, conducting business on an international scale with illicit organizations in other countries.
"Canadian criminal groups are now dealing directly with Mexican criminals and crime groups in Mexico, a country struggling with corruption and brutal violence," says the assessment by the RCMP's criminal intelligence program.
In April last year, Thomas Gisby, a B.C. man with known gang ties, was gunned down in a Nuevo Vallarta coffee shop. Three members of a group known as the UN Gang and two people with purported links to the Hells Angels have also been killed in Mexico.
At the same time, interceptions of Canada-bound drug shipments "point to possible connections between Mexican and Canadian-based crime networks," the RCMP says.
A recently released Canada Border Services Agency report cites Mexico as the largest transit point for South American cocaine destined for North America.
The RCMP assessment says competition among drug trafficking organizations has made corruption endemic in Mexican society, reflected in weakened governmental institutions, an ineffective criminal justice system, and a deep-rooted fear and distrust of authorities by the Mexican people.
"Mayors, city councillors, governors, police officers, customs officials, and even Mexican anti-drug czars, have been corrupted by wealthy drug traffickers who, in turn, operate with impunity and increase their power throughout the country. Officials who cannot be bribed or intimidated are often killed."
The RCMP notes Mexico ranked 100th of 182 countries on Transparency International's 2011 "corruption perceptions" index — falling to 105th in 2012.
Efforts to make officials look the other way have spilled across the Mexican border, with drug cartels paying bribes to U.S. officials for help in smuggling drugs, guns and people.
The RCMP says while many organized crime groups target Canadian officials, including police and border officials, Canada and Mexico have widely differing cultures, history, socio-economic influences and criminal justice systems.
The murder in Mexico of several Canadians with criminal connections may signal that Canadian disputes and retaliatory actions are making their way south — contrary to the popular perception that drug cartel frictions are migrating north, says the RCMP's companion report.
The Mounties map out various scenarios — all of which were withheld from release — as to what might be happening in this vein.
The RCMP says the connections and affiliations of the Canadians killed in Mexico warrant closer examination.
"More exploration and analysis would offer an opportunity to work with Mexican authorities in understanding the specific circumstances of these murders," concludes the review.
"This would provide further intelligence on how cartels behave toward foreign criminals in their jurisdiction and at what level Canadian criminals are integrated into the Mexican criminal environment."
Sgt. Greg Cox, an RCMP spokesman, said Thursday the force had nothing to add to the reports.