MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican safety forces captured Ovidio Guzmán, an alleged drug trafficker wished by the US and one of many sons of former Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in a pre-dawn operation Thursday that set off gunfights and roadblocks throughout the western state’s capital.
Protection Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval mentioned Military and Nationwide Guard personnel had captured a son of “El Chapo.” Sandoval recognized him solely as Ovidio, in line with authorities coverage.
Ovidio Guzmán, nicknamed “the Mouse,” had not been one among El Chapo’s better-known sons till an aborted operation to seize him three years in the past. That try equally set off violence in Culiacan that finally led President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to order the army to let him go.
Thursday’s high-profile seize comes simply days earlier than López Obrador will host U.S. President Joe Biden for bilateral talks adopted by their North American Leaders’ Summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Drug trafficking, together with immigration, is anticipated to be a high speaking level.
“It is a vital blow to the Sinaloa cartel and main victory for the rule of legislation. It won’t, nonetheless, impede the circulate of medicine into the U.S. Hopefully, Mexico will extradite him to the U.S.,” Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former Chief of Worldwide Operations, mentioned Thursday.
Vigil mentioned that Ovidio Guzmán was concerned in the entire cartel’s actions, particularly the manufacturing of fentanyl. A 2018 federal indictment in Washington, D.C., accused the youthful Guzmán of conspiring to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana in the US.
The CDC mentioned final July that greater than 107,000 People had died from a drug overdose in the course of the yr ending January 2022, most of them involving opioids together with illegally made fentanyl.
López Obrador’s safety method reversed years of what got here to be often called the kingpin technique of taking down cartel leaders, which led to the fragmentation of huge cartels and bloody battles for dominance. López Obrador put all his religion within the army, disbanding the corrupt Federal Police and creating the Nationwide Guard beneath army command.
The seize was the results of six months of reconnaissance and surveillance within the cartel’s territory, after which fast motion on Thursday, Sandoval mentioned. Nationwide Guard troops noticed SUVs, some with do-it-yourself armor, and instantly coordinated with the military as they established a fringe across the suspicious automobiles and compelled the occupants out to be searched.
The safety forces then got here beneath fireplace, however have been capable of achieve management of the state of affairs and establish Guzmán amongst these current and in possession of firearms, Sandoval mentioned.
Cartel members arrange 19 roadblocks together with at Culiacan’s airport and outdoors the native military base, in addition to all factors of entry to the town of Culiacan, Sandoval mentioned, however the Air Power was capable of fly Guzmán to Mexico Metropolis regardless of their efforts, and he was taken to places of work of the Lawyer Normal’s organized crime particular prosecutor.
Sandoval mentioned Guzmán was a pacesetter of a Sinaloa faction he known as “los menores” or “the juniors,” who’re also referred to as “los Chapitos,” for the sons of El Chapo.
Different “little Chapos” embrace two of his brothers — Iván Archivaldo Guzmán and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán — who’re believed to have been operating cartel operations along with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
The Chapitos have been taking higher management within the cartel as a result of Zambada was unwell and remoted within the mountains, Vigil mentioned. “The Chapitos know that if el Mayo dies, (the cartel) goes to interrupt aside in the event that they don’t have management.”
“It’s going to be crucial that the U.S. requests Ovidio’s extradition rapidly and that Mexico does it,” Vigil mentioned.
Overseas Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard confirmed that Mexico acquired a request in 2019 from the US for Guzmán’s arrest for functions of extradition. He mentioned that request must be up to date and processed, however he added that Guzmán should first face an open case in Mexico.
U.S. Homeland Safety Investigations had posted a $5 million reward for data resulting in the arrest and/or conviction of Guzmán early final yr.
Alleged cartel members responded to Thursday’s operation by carjacking Culiacan residents and setting automobiles ablaze within the cartel stronghold. Native and state authorities warned everybody to remain inside.
Intermittent gunfire continued into the afternoon Thursday in Culiacan as Mexican safety forces continued to conflict with cartel gunmen and few folks ventured out.
Airline Aeromexico mentioned in a press release that one among its jets was struck by a bullet Thursday morning because it ready for takeoff. Passenger video posted on-line confirmed folks cowering on the ground of the aircraft. The corporate mentioned passengers and crew have been secure.
Later, Mexico’s Civil Aviation Company mentioned in a press release that an air pressure aircraft in Culiacan had additionally been hit with gunfire. Along with the Culiacan airport, the company mentioned airports in Los Mochis and Mazatlan have been additionally ordered closed and all flights cancelled for safety causes.
David Téllez was aboard that flight together with his spouse and kids, getting ready to return to Mexico Metropolis after visiting his in-laws.
Their aircraft had been ready for its likelihood to take off as two massive army planes carrying personnel landed in addition to three or 4 army helicopters. Marines and troopers deployed alongside the perimeter of the runway.
When the industrial flight was lastly getting ready to speed up, Téllez heard gunshots within the distance. Inside 15 seconds the sounds have been all of the sudden extra intense. “We heard gunshots and threw ourselves to the ground,” he mentioned.
He didn’t know the aircraft had been hit till a flight attendant instructed them. The aircraft rapidly returned to the terminal and so they have been hustled right into a room. Late Thursday afternoon they have been nonetheless within the airport, not sure of after they would be capable of return to Mexico Metropolis.
Elsewhere in Culiacan, native reporter Marcos Vizcarra had sought shelter in a resort after gunmen stole his automobile.
Then he defined through Twitter that armed males had entered the resort the place he had sought shelter “and are threatening friends to offer them their automobile keys.”
Later, Vizcarra reported that they’d taken his telephone, however he had made it house safely.
Such makes an attempt to create chaos usually are available response to arrests of necessary cartel figures in Mexico. One of the vital infamous got here when federal safety forces cornered Ovidio Guzmán in October 2019, solely to let him escape after gunmen shot up the town with high-powered weapons.
López Obrador mentioned on the time he had made the choice to keep away from the lack of life.
López Obrador entered workplace extremely vital of the toll of his predecessors’ drug warfare. He embraced the phrase “hugs, not bullets” to explain his method to Mexico’s persistent violence, which might give attention to social applications geared toward weakening the draw of organized crime.
However 4 years into his six-year time period, the loss of life toll stays excessive.
In July, Mexico captured Rafael Caro Quintero, as soon as one of many godfathers of drug trafficking and the person allegedly accountable for the homicide of a DEA agent greater than three a long time in the past, simply days after López Obrador met with Biden on the White Home.
On the time, the seize was seen as a sign that Mexico could possibly be keen to go after high-profile cartel bosses once more, one thing López Obrador had been detest to do.
Related Press author Fabiola Sánchez contributed to this report.