An estimated 400 Mexican cartel members have entered Canada using fake passports since Justin Trudeau lifted visa requirements for the country, according to Quebec news outlet TVA Nouvelle.
Shortly after Trudeau was elected prime minister, the federal government stopped requiring Mexican citizens to apply for a visa before visiting Canada in 2016. Currently, anybody hoping to enter Canada through an airport must attain an Electronic Travel Authorization, which costs about $7 and takes a few minutes to complete.
Stringent visa requirements for Mexico were implemented by former Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2009.
Despite calls from officials warning the federal government that the visa lift would result in criminals taking advantage of the situation, the Trudeau government carried on with the reform.
Authorities have been hard-pressed to track the cartel members after they have entered Canada, while some suspects have evaded police entirely. Authorities have reason to believe that among them there are “sicarios” or hitmen, as well as drug traffickers.
One known suspect, Romualdo Lopez-Herrera, who was a known hitman for the cartels arrived in Canada through the Toronto Pearson Airport without being intercepted or spotted by authorities. Lopez-Herrera was later arrested for extortion in Canada but has since evaded authorities and is roaming free in the country.
According to the Canadian Border Services Agency, the visa changes have led to an 80% increase in drugs seized along the Canada-U.S. border, while inadmissibility has risen by 500%.
Overall, asylum claims have also gone up due to lax border regulations as reported by True North. In 2018 alone, over 3,300 asylum claims were made in Canada by Mexican citizens.
Other suspects believed to be in Canada who are involved with Mexican drug cartels are Peruvian cartel member Carlos Joel Borrego Mendoza and Colombian hitman Fredi Gil Rodriguez.
It is estimated that half of the 400 cartel members are currently residing in the province of Quebec.