Violence hits Mexico cartel stronghold as ‘Chapo’ son nabbed read full article at


MEXICO CITY — The solar wasn’t but up in Culiacan when David Téllez and his household started making their strategy to the town’s airport for a return flight to Mexico after their trip. However not lengthy after they set out they encountered the primary crude roadblock, an deserted car obstructing their manner.

Téllez turned to social media to search out out what was happening and noticed that Sinaloa’s state capital, a stronghold of the cartel by the identical title, was stuffed with roadblocks and gunfire.

It might be hours earlier than Mexico’s protection secretary would affirm that the army had captured Ovidio Guzmán, a son of the infamous former Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, in a pre-dawn operation north of the town.

Similar to that, Culiacan was thrust right into a day of terror in contrast to any its residents had skilled since October 2019 — the final time authorities tried to seize the younger Guzmán.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has railed in opposition to his predecessors’ aggressive efforts to seize drug lords, however his administration bagged the high-profile cartel determine simply days earlier than internet hosting U.S. President Joe Biden, and at the very least within the quick time period locals had been paying the worth.

Culiacan residents posted video on social media exhibiting convoys of gunmen in pickup vehicles and SUVs rolling down boulevards within the metropolis. Not less than one convoy included a flatbed truck with a mounted gun within the again, the identical type of car that induced chaos and mayhem within the 2019 unrest.

All entrances to the town had been blocked and comparable acts had been taking part in out in different elements of Sinaloa.

Rev. Esteban Robles, spokesman for the Roman Catholic diocese in Culiacan, mentioned that “there’s an environment of uncertainty, stress,” and that those that might had been staying inside their houses.

“A variety of the streets are nonetheless blocked by the automobiles that had been burned,” Robles mentioned.

The Culiacan municipal authorities warned: “Don’t go away residence! The security of Culiacan’s residents is crucial.” Colleges, native authorities and plenty of personal companies closed.

Oscar Loza, a human rights activist in Culiacan, described the state of affairs as tense, with some looting at shops. On the south aspect of the town, the place Loza lives, folks reported convoys of gunmen transferring towards a army base, however Loza mentioned streets round his home had been eerily quiet. “You don’t hear any visitors,” he mentioned.

Téllez pressed on making an attempt to get his household again to Mexico Metropolis, circumventing a number of extra deserted automobiles blocking roads and ultimately making it to the airport.

There the household hurriedly checked in for his or her flight earlier than workers of an airport restaurant urged them to shelter in a toilet. Gunmen had been arriving on the airport to stop authorities from flying Guzmán out.

Juan Carlos Ayala, a Culiacan resident and Sinaloa College professor who research the sociology of drug trafficking, mentioned Ovidio Guzmán was an apparent goal at the very least since 2019.

“Ovidio’s destiny had been determined. Furthermore, he was recognized as the most important trafficker of fentanyl and essentially the most seen Chapos chief.” Requested how locals had been reacting to the arrest, Ayala mentioned “Folks have differing views, however I feel the bulk are with them” — the Sinaloa cartel.

Which may be due to the cash the cartel brings to the area, but additionally as a result of locals know that even after federal troops withdraw, the cartel will nonetheless be there. As dangerous as it’s, the cartel has ensured relative stability, if not peace.

Guzmán was indicted by the USA on drug trafficking costs in 2018. Based on each governments, he had assumed a rising function amongst his brothers in carrying on their father’s enterprise, together with long- time cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

Overseas Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard confirmed that the federal government had acquired a request in 2019 from the USA for Guzmán’s arrest for functions of extradition. He mentioned that request must be up to date and processed, however he added that first an open case in Mexico awaits Guzmán.

Ismael Bojorquez, director of the native information outlet Riodoce, which makes a speciality of protection of the world’s drug trafficking, mentioned the violent response needed to do with the president’s much less aggressive stance towards organized crime.

“They (cartels) have taken benefit of those 4 years to prepare themselves, arm themselves, strengthen their buildings, their funds,” he mentioned. “I consider there are extra weapons than three years in the past. All of organized crime’s armies have strengthened, not simply the Chapitos, and that is the worth that society is paying for this technique of the federal authorities.”

At Culiacan’s airport, a Mexican army flight was in a position to spirit Guzmán away to Mexico Metropolis. Téllez’s business flight waited for its likelihood to take off as two giant army planes landed with troops as did three or 4 army helicopters, and marines and troopers started deploying alongside the perimeter of the runway.

When the airline flight was lastly making ready to speed up, Téllez heard gunshots within the distance. Inside 15 seconds the sound was all of a sudden extra intense and far nearer, and passengers threw themselves to the ground, he mentioned.

He didn’t know the aircraft had been hit by gunfire till a flight attendant advised them. Nobody was injured, however the aircraft unexpectedly retreated to the terminal.

Samuel González, who based Mexico’s particular prosecutor’s workplace for organized crime within the Nineties, mentioned Guzmán’s seize was a “reward” forward of Biden’s go to. The Mexican authorities “is working to have a peaceful go to,” he mentioned.

He known as the pictures that hit the business airliner “certainly an act of worldwide terrorism” and advised it might result in very severe discussions between the 2 governments in regards to the implications of those actions.

By night, Téllez remained within the terminal. The federal government had shut down the airport, in addition to airports in Los Mochis and Mazatlan for safety causes.

Requested if the try and seize Guzmán was value one other day of stress and uncertainty in Culiacan, Téllez mentioned, “In the event that they caught him, it was value it.”

Related Press writers Fabiola Sánchez and Christopher Sherman contributed to this report.


About Mark Stevenson and MarÍa Verza | AP

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