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shooting victims Robert James Dinh, left, and Thomas Cherukara, right, died in the attack at the Xcaret Hotel. Ceara Jessica Sahadee survived. All three victims were Canadian.

Quintana Roo hotel shooting victims had history of criminal activities in Canada

One was allegedly a member of an international crime syndicate

The two Canadian men shot and killed in a hotel in Quintana Roo on Friday both had long criminal histories.

Robert James Dinh was part of a Vietnamese crime syndicate operating in Canada and the United States, according to news reports. He was suspected of money laundering, using a false identity and other criminal activities, and was thought to be the right hand man to the gang’s leader Cong Dinh, the news website Infobae and the newspaper El Universal reported.

The other victim, Canadian Thomas Cherukara, was suspected of a long list of criminal activities including drug trafficking, robbery, weapons possession and using a false identity, but it is not clear whether he belonged to the same organization. A Canadian woman, Ceara Jessica Sahadee Yari, 29, was wounded.

Authorities are searching for a male assailant who fled on foot immediately after the shooting at the Xcaret Hotel between Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

The former chief superintendent of federal policing in British Columbia, Keith Finn, said in 2019 that the Vietnamese criminal group had wide international operations. “It was allegedly transporting ecstasy and marijuana to the southern United States, as well as cocaine to northern Canada,” and had affiliates in California, Mexico, Australia, Vietnam and across Canada, he said.

Canada announced a CA $50,000 reward for Cong Dinh in 2019.
Canada announced a CAD $50,000 reward for Cong Dinh in 2019.

The newspaper Milenio reported that Robert Dinh and Cong Dinh were the same man, who was thought to have fled to Vietnam in 2013. The Canadian police offered CAD $50,000 (about US $37,700) for information on Cong Dinh in 2019.

The incident is the fourth beachfront shooting in the state since last October, when gunfire left two tourists dead in Tulum. Another incident saw two drug dealers shot and killed on a beach in Puerto Morelos in November.

In December, shooters arrived on a Cancún beach in personal watercraft, fired weapons into the air and fled.

The increase in violence triggered the deployment in December of a new tourism security battalion of the National Guard.

With reports from Milenio, Infobae and El Universal

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