Dramatic photos and videos document shocking incident yesterday at Culiacán Airport (CUL) in the western Mexican province of Sinaloa when an Aeromexico flight was shot at by cartel members while taxiing for departure.
Aeromexico flight AM165, which was scheduled to fly from Culiacán to Mexico City, was operated by a 15-year-old Embraer E190 with the registration code XA-ALW. The incident occurred yesterday, January 5, 2023, in the midst of violent clashes in the region following the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, son of infamous Mexican drug lord El Chapo, by Mexican authorities earlier that day.
As the plane was taxiing out for takeoff, passengers onboard reported hearing gunshots and were told to duck for cover. Video footage from inside the cabin shows the panic and chaos that ensued as passengers scrambled for safety. Miraculously, no injuries were reported among the passengers or crew.
However, images shared on social media show bullet holes in the fuselage of the aircraft, highlighting the gravity of the situation and the potential danger faced by those onboard.
The flight was canceled as a result of the incident and the airport was closed for the remainder of the day. It’s still uncertain when it will reopen leaving passengers stranded in a region where violence and unrest continue to escalate.
It’s not the first time a commercial flight was affected by gunfire. Just in November, a Middle East Airlines plane was hit by a stray bullet while landing at Beirut Airport. In that case, the gunfire was the unintentional result of celebratory gunfire rather than a targeted attack like the case in Sinaloa.
Meanwhile, in Sinaloa, the arrest of El Chapo’s son has sparked a violent backlash from the powerful Sinaloa cartel. In addition to the attack on the Aeromexico flight, there have been numerous reports of arson, kidnappings, and attacks on military helicopters and roadblocks in the area. The cartel reportedly tried unsuccessfully to break Guzmán out of custody before he could be removed from the province.
The Mexican government continues to struggle to combat powerful drug cartels in Sinaloa and beyond. Despite the imprisonment of El Chapo in the United States in 2019, the Sinaloa Cartel continues to have formidable influence in Mexico with corruption and connections that reach deep into the highest levels of Mexican government and law enforcement.
An Aeromexico flight was shot at by the Sinaloa Cartel while taxiing out for departure at Culiacán Airport in Mexico on January 5, 2023. No injuries were reported among the passengers or crew, but the incident highlights the dangers faced by commercial aviation in Mexico and other regions with ongoing violence and unrest.