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Cancun machete attack: Mexico prosecutor launches investigation after American dad says he was left for dead

FIRST ON FOX: Mexican prosecutors have launched an investigation into the alleged machete attack of a Utah dad vacationing with his wife in Cancun for Valentine’s Day.

“The Attorney General’s office is announcing that an investigation is underway regarding the apparent illegal deprivation of liberty of a tourist of U.S. nationality, which occurred in Cancun in February 2022,” the Quintana Roo prosecutor’s office told G3 Box News Digital.

Dustan Jackson, a 36-year-old contractor from Salt Lake City, told G3 Box News Digital Thursday that with four hours to spare before his flight back to the U.S. from Cancun, he wanted to pick up some chewing tobacco and called a cab.

“Mexico is not built off tobacco like America is – you can’t just go to the gas station and get a can of chew,” he said. “People think you can just get it at the airport. I tried that.”

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Jackson says that he was ambushed by machete-wielding attackers as soon as he got out of the car in Mexico.

Jackson says that he was ambushed by machete-wielding attackers as soon as he got out of the car in Mexico.
(Dustan Jackson )

They didn’t have it, he said.

According to a Cancun airport vendor, the only chewing tobacco product sold inside the airport is in the duty-free shops, and it comes in bags instead of tins.

So Jackson took a cab to the nearest gas station – which he said also didn’t have any, just cigarettes. He said he asked the taxi driver to bring him to a bigger store.

Cancun beach during summer.

Cancun beach during summer.
(iStock)

“Next thing I know, I show up to a grocery store, I get out at the grocery store, and bam! Light’s out,” he said.

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Dustan Jackson shared this image he says shows doctors' work to reconstruct his injured left shoulder.

Dustan Jackson shared this image he says shows doctors’ work to reconstruct his injured left shoulder.
(Dustan Jackson)

He’d left at around 10 a.m., he said, and when he woke up, with serious injuries to the left shoulder and leg, it was dark. His front teeth were broken, and he had a welt on the back of his head, he said. His cellphone and credit card had been taken. He came to in a ditch.

“They hacked away at my entire left side of my body, shredding, trying to cut my tendons or kill me or whatever they were trying to freakin’ do,” he said. “And then they dumped me in a ditch. My shoulder’s completely broken off at this time.”

The screengrab from Dustan Jackson's Kickstarter page shows the scars he says were left on his shoulder after months of surgeries following a February attack in Cancun.

The screengrab from Dustan Jackson’s Kickstarter page shows the scars he says were left on his shoulder after months of surgeries following a February attack in Cancun.
(Dustan Jackson)

Pictures show the damage to his shoulder, which American surgeons spent months attempting to repair, and he provided an X-ray image of the artificial joint installed inside.

He says he has severe nerve damage and can no longer work as a countertop contractor or play catch with his daughter, who at 14 years old is already competing in varsity-level softball.

Dustan Jackson and his wife were visiting Cancun, Mexico when he was kidnapped.

Dustan Jackson and his wife were visiting Cancun, Mexico when he was kidnapped.
(FOX 11 Los Angeles)

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Jackson struggled to his feet, bleeding and wounded, and said he found himself in a rundown neighborhood somewhere in the desert.

“The first cops that I ran into, I swear it was a police station at least, they told me to go away,” he said.

Akumal Bay - Caribbean white beach in Riviera Maya, coast of Yucatan and Quintana Roo, Mexico

Akumal Bay – Caribbean white beach in Riviera Maya, coast of Yucatan and Quintana Roo, Mexico
(iStock)

So he wandered back outside and screamed for help. But none came.

“I decided to just give up,” he said. “And then for some reason, I don’t know how long later, I have this thought that you can’t give up.”

He had a family back home.

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Finally, he wasn’t sure after how long, he encountered another police officer who treated his injuries and drove him to the airport.

Jackson said he wasn’t sure why the officer drove him to the airport instead of a hospital.

“She put a few bandages on me, why didn’t she take me to the hospital, I don’t know,” he said. “Some of the horror stories I’ve heard, I’m glad that [she] didn’t, because I could have been stuck down there. Who knows?”

Dustan Jackson says that  a female police officer eventually found him and rendered aid.

Dustan Jackson says that  a female police officer eventually found him and rendered aid.
(FOX 11 Los Angeles)

But once in the airport, he faced new challenges. He didn’t have his phone. His wife had flown home without him. He couldn’t speak Spanish. And, he added, he looked “like a homeless person.”

Initially, he found a wheelchair. But since he no longer had a valid plane ticket, he said airport security officials eventually forced him out of it, and he found himself stuck on the floor, begging passersby for help.

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Police in Cancun and at the tourist destination’s airport separately told G3 Box News Digital they had no record of the attack or any information to corroborate that a wheelchair had been taken away from Jackson.

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Eventually, the Utah man found an international traveler, named Kayla Jackson, who helped him by contacting his wife and checking him into a hotel.

“My guardian angel,” Dustan Jackson said. “Luckily she had her flight canceled.”

That gave her time to listen to his story, he said. His wife, home in Utah, transferred money to arrange an overnight hotel stay and a new flight home.

His passport and bags were at the airport, and he was able to book a new flight and get home, where he underwent months of surgeries and treatments, he said. He was in a hospital bed from February to late April, and he returned in June when doctors discovered more nerve damage. It was only in the last two weeks that he’s been able to move around freely, he said.

Cancun, Mexico - April 24, 2015: The control tower of the international airport of Cancun with an Aero Mexico airplane.

Cancun, Mexico – April 24, 2015: The control tower of the international airport of Cancun with an Aero Mexico airplane.
(iStock)

He said he had not filed a formal police report or the U.S. embassy in Mexico but had contacted lawyers and was exploring the task.

A State Department official told G3 Box News Digital Friday that the government is aware of the incident.

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“We stand ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance,” the official said.

Jackson, who has been unable to work his contracting job for months and is now posting DIY videos on YouTube, is trying to raise $124,000 on Kickstarter to fund a documentary about his ordeal. He said he also wants to start a podcast dedicated to other shocking stories.

For more information on his recovery, he set up a website, dustanjackson.com.

David Unsworth contributed to this report.



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