Saturday 28 April 2012

BC gangsters outgunned again: Thomas Gisby killed in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico

Canadian Thomas Gisby, 47, was shot twice in the head at close range by two men around 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 28th, in the Paradise Plaza Mall in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico.

(See also Interpol central to Lucier arrest in Mexico for details on the May 2nd arrest of the Canadian drug trafficker Nicholas Michael Lucier.)

Gisby, who had just placed his order at a Starbucks in the mall, died at the scene. The Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that the suspects fled in a Volkswagen Jetta, and that one suspect was arrested by Mexican police.

The paper Noticia Terra has given a slightly different account, reporting that one of the killers escaped on public transit, with Mr. Gisby having been shot in the chest.

Both accounts agree that the weapon of choice was a Magnum 44.

Nuevo Vallarta is on Mexico’s Pacific coast, in the State of Jalisco, only a few miles north of the popular resort town of Puerto Vallarta.

Mr. Gisby appeared to be living quite well. He was a resident of the Green Bay Condominium complex, on the El Tigre golf course.

The (normally very tranquil) Paradise Plaza Mall

Gisby, a well-known drug trafficker, had previously been targeted in an explosion in Whistler, B.C., in January of this year. At that time Gisby and another man were camping in an RV in a public parking lot when someone detonated explosives, apparently trying to kill them. Both victims received minor injuries in the blast.

Police said then that the explosion was believed to be gang-related. Gisby had links to both the Hells Angels and Dhak group, and had been involved in the drug trade in BC for more than 20 years.

The Dhak group has been the subject of retaliatory hits since last summer's daylight murder in Kelowna, BC, of Red Scorpion Jonathon Bacon. Hells Angel associate Larry Amero was also wounded in that shooting.

Canadian police believe the Dhak and Duhre gang, which has also been the subject of retaliatory hits, are involved in a turf war with elements of the Hells Angels, the Independent Soldiers, and the Red Scorpions gang, which is now largely out of commission.

In January of this year the Vancouver gangster Sandip "Dip" Duhre, 36, was killed in a similar hit to the one that took Gisby’s life:  he was shot to death in a busy restaurant in Vancouver's Sheraton Wall Centre.

The Dhak group has been around for some time. In 1998 gangster Bindy Johal was killed in a nightclub. As well, in October 2010, Gurmit Singh Dhak lost in his life in a targeted hit – the second known attempt on his life.  

BC traffickers have been active in Mexico in recent years, but it seems they have met their match in a drug market that is quick to settle scores violently.

In Mexico, traffickers don’t fail when they try to blow up their enemies in RVs. That seems almost comical. Instead, they hire a sicario, or assassin, for a few hundred bucks.

If the sicario fails, he usually dies, too, so the success rate tends to be very high.

Gisby is the sixth BC man with links to local drug trade who has been shot to death in Mexico in recent years. The Pacific coast, and particularly the Puerto Vallarta area, as well as the inland city of Guadalajara, also in the state of Jalisco, seem to be places of interest for Canadian traffickers.

(For more detailed info on some of those other killings, see Canadian death in Mexico likely drug-related.)

This area or plaza, has historically been controlled by the Pacific/Sinaloa Cartel, which is overseen by the most wanted man in the Americas, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman.

However, it has been destabilized by Jalisco’s violent and fast-growing New Generation (“Nueva Generación”) Cartel, as well by the incursion of the ultra-violent Los Zetas Cartel, which originated in Mexico’s northeast and Gulf Coast, but is now extending its influence throughout the country.

The Sinaloa Cartel has been fighting off Los Zetas via a sub-group of hit-men known as The Resistance (“La Resistencia”). This group is also sometimes called the United Cartels (“Cárteles Unidos”) because it has included operatives from the Gulf Cartel and Knights Templar Cartel, all of whom are united in trying to defeat Los Zetas.

The Banderas bay area of Jalisco, which includes Puerto Vallarta, Nuevo Vallarta, Bucerias, La Cruz, and Punta Mita at its top, is statistically a very safe place for North Americans – so long as they stay clear of the drug trade.

For example, Jacob Semler, 31, of Oklahoma, was robbed and killed two months ago near Puerto Vallarta and – though little is known of Mr. Semler or the circumstances surrounding his death – it has been suggested to La politica that it was drug related.

Mr. Semler, who had lived in Puerto Vallarta for ten years, reportedly stepped out to the store in the Marina area on February 28th and never returned home.

At the time, a private investigator told the family that his body was found several miles away from Puerto Vallarta. The investigator theorized that it was the police who had moved the body in order to reduce the bad publicity for the resort town.

After several days, Semler’s decomposing  body was discovered in the San Clemente area and brought to a funeral home in Bucerias to await identification. Mr. Semler appeared to have died from a blow to the head.

Mr. Semler, who had a wife and child, was working for Puerto Bahia in La Cruz.
Jacob Semler - still a mystery

La politica made repeated efforts to try and determine what happened to Mr. Semler, but to no avail. The murderer has not been caught.

However, one individual claimed to have known Mr. Semler  “from my timeshare days”, and asserted that  Mr. Semler was a drug user. But this could not be verified, and no police force has specifically connected Mr. Semler’s death with the drug trade, as has been done with Mr. Gisby’s killing.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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  1. Hello,

    This is a really informative post. Nuevo Vallarta is a great place for a family holiday. You might want to take the family to the dolphin facility and research center or the turtle protection reserve, a great educational excursion. I would like to tell you that you have given me much knowledge about it. Thanks for everything....

    Puerto Vallarta Condo Rentals

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.