VANCOUVER, B.C. - Police in British Columbia say two men gunned down in Mexico were involved in the drug trade and had been on the radar of gang investigators before they were found shot to death in a Puerto Vallarta condo complex.
Sgt. Shinder Kirk of the RCMP's Integrated Gang Task Force said Monday that Gordon Douglas Kendall and Jeffrey Ronald Ivans, who were found dead in Puerto Vallarta on Sunday, were known to police in British Columbia.
"We have been aware of them for some time now," Kirk told The Canadian Press. "We also knew of some of their recent activities in Mexico as well, centring around the drug trade."
Mexican police confirmed Monday that gunmen killed the two Canadian men.
Jalisco state prosecutor Guillermo Diaz said Kendall and Ivans were killed Sunday at the apartment building where they were staying.
Diaz said Ivans was carrying a gun but was not able to use it.
He said witnesses told police that two other gunmen then arrived and repeatedly shot the dead or dying Canadians.
He said investigators have not determined a motive for the killing, and no arrests have been made.
Lino Gonzalez Corona, a spokesman for the state prosecutor, said the dead men were both 37 and from British Columbia.
Corona said the men were gunned down around midnight, outside of a condo building called Sunflower Condos (Condominios Girasol) in Puerto Vallarta.
"Kendall was walking toward his apartment when two men came up to him and made conversation. They left, and a third man came up to him and fired. (Ivans), who was with him, ran off and was followed by three men. They caught up with him, firing on him and killing him."
Corona said police were searching for between four and six suspects.
"We have various lines of investigation open and we're trying to determine what the real motive may be," he said
Kirk said the men's activities were far-reaching, saying the pair are believed to have been involved in the "exporting of drugs from Mexico and into the United States and then from there at any point up into Canada or across the United States."
At this point, he said police don't have any information about whether Ivans and Kendall were affiliated with any specific gang or organized crime group.
"(But) if you're going to get involved in this type of activity, it's not glamorous and violence is not that far behind."
The Mexican Embassy in Canada said it regrets the deaths of the two Canadian citizens.
"These deaths appear to have been a matter of settling a score," spokesman Alberto Lozano said in a statement from Ottawa. "Nevertheless, the appropriate Mexican authorities are conducting an investigation to shed light on the case."
Lozano said Mexican authorities are co-ordinating efforts with the consulate general of Canada in Mexico City to follow up on the investigation.
Ivans pleaded guilty in Kamloops on Dec. 13, 2002, to one charge of trafficking. He was fined $1,000 and paid a victim surcharge of $150.
On a Facebook memorial page, friends lamented the loss of two men they remembered as witty, charming and nice. One also warned other friends not to go the Mexican news site, which featured graphic photos of the men lying in pools of blood.
Nicole Mason, who posted her condolences on the page, said she went to high school with the two men in Kamloops.
Mason, who now lives in Calgary, said in a telephone interview she dated Ivans back then.
She said she felt "empty" when she heard both men had been shot dead.
"They were just two guys always living for today and living life to the fullest and they'll be missed by many, many, many people."
Kirk said Mexico still appears to be a source country for cocaine coming into the United States and then into Canada.
"We still see quantities of synthetic drugs and marijuana that is ultimately shipped into the United States - either exchanged for cocaine or weapons or both."
Last summer, two Vancouver-area men involved in the drug trade were also gunned down in Mexico.
Elliott Castaneda and Ahmet Kaawach, who were members of the United Nations gang, were killed in a hail of bullets while they were dining at a restaurant.
According to reports on a Mexican news website, the gunmen in the latest shooting fled in two cars after gunning down the Canadian men.
Police later found three vehicles registered to the victims, a pickup truck with Canadian plates, a Hummer and a Mercedes Benz with Mexican plates.
(With files from The Associated Press)