Video footage of a gay couple from the US having a scary encounter on a Mexico road trip has been gaining traction on social media.
Aaron Payzant and Logan Howard have their own YouTube channel called Out Off The Trail. Howard is a wildlife photographer. They post videos of themselves on outdoorsy adventures, such as chasing tornadoes.
Back in 2020, they decided to jump in their car and head down to Mexico to do some birdwatching. However, their plans went awry when they found themselves lost and traveling down a rural dirt road.
They noticed a truck following them at speed, which began to make them nervous. It then overtook them and pulled them over, and a bunch of men jumped out with guns. Payzant and Howard say they were possibly drug cartel members, although this is not known. Unsurprisingly, the couple were terrified.
They first posted video footage to their YouTube channel in December. Last month, they posted further footage from their front-facing dashboard camera. The videos have been picked up in recent days on Tik Tok.
Here’s the front-facing footage. You can jump to the one-minute mark to see the van pulling them over.
And below is what was going on inside the car. At one point, both Payzant and Howard appear to hyperventilate and struggle to keep calm. As it turns out, the men with guns appear to just want to know where they’re going and if they’re lost. They allow Payzant and Howard to leave without any trouble
In a further video, the couple talked about what happened. Payzant says the men gave them very strict instructions for where to go, warning them not to take the road straight ahead.
Payzant says that when he saw the guns, he was convinced his life was over.
“As they were passing me, I look over, and saw them in the back of the truck with their guns hanging out and my heart just dropped. And I saw them jump out of the vehicle and come towards me, and I still remember seeing down the barrel of one of their guns, and I felt my life was over. My life was going to end right here in this moment and no one may ever hear what happened.
“It was really scary.”
Online, many found the video shocking.
“Honestly, you guys are lucky they stopped you before you got further down that road and saw something you are not supposed to see. They saved your lives,” said one commentator on YouTube.
Others said it was unfair to assume the men were cartel members.
“They were not from a cartel, there are groups of armed civilians that decided to protect their towns since the government does not do anything against drug cartels,” said a Mexican commentator. “You were lucky because drug dealers would have killed you or kidnapped you. Thousands of people disappear in Mexico while they travel or go to touristic places. I am Mexican and it is very sad for me to tell you this but it is the truth. We live in a nightmare and nobody does anything to stop the cartels.”
Organized crime is a huge problem in Mexico. There were a reported 33,000 homicides in the country last year, with many linked to drug cartels. Only around 2% of those crimes resulted in convictions.
Gangsters act largely with impunity, with around 130 candidates and politicians killed in the lead-up to Mexico’s 2018 elections.
After their scary encounter, Howard said he would not take his own car and drive down to Mexico if visiting again.
“I’d say to anyone thinking of taking their car into Mexico, it’s probably not a good idea. If you want to avoid any types of trouble, just don’t do it. It’s way safer to fly in and get taxis everywhere.”
Following the incident, the men decided to leave their car and fly home, not wanting to risk driving through any more risky areas. They were finally reunited with their car only a couple of months ago after finding someone who was able to drive it up to them for pickup in Florida.