Wednesday 8 February 2023

Mexico Recaptures Son of Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’

While Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is in a U.S. prison, four of his children are either under indictment or under investigation

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Q24N (VOA) Mexico City —  Mexican security forces captured Ovidio Guzman, an alleged drug trafficker wanted by the United States and one of the sons of former Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in a predawn operation Thursday that set off gunfights and roadblocks across the western state’s capital.

Secretary of National Defense (Sedena), Luis Cresencio Sandoval, stressed that the recapture of Ovidio Guzmán represents a “forceful blow” to the Sinaloa Cartel

Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said army and national guard personnel had captured a son of “El Chapo.” Sandoval identified him only as Ovidio, in keeping with government policy.

Ovidio Guzman, nicknamed “the Mouse,” had not been one of El Chapo’s better-known sons until an aborted operation to capture him three years ago. That attempt similarly set off violence in Culiacan that ultimately led President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to order the military to let him go.

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Thursday’s high-profile capture comes just days before Lopez Obrador will host U.S. President Joe Biden for bilateral talks followed by their North American Leaders’ Summit with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Drug trafficking, along with immigration, is expected to be a top talking point.

“This is a significant blow to the Sinaloa cartel and major victory for the rule of law. It will not, however, impede the flow of drugs into the U.S. Hopefully, Mexico will extradite him to the U.S.,” Mike Vigil, the DEA’s former Chief of International Operations, said Thursday.

Vigil said that Ovidio Guzman was involved in all of the cartel’s activities, especially the production of fentanyl.

The CDC said last July that more than 107,000 Americans had died from a drug overdose during the year ending January 2022, most of them involving opioids including illegally made fentanyl.

Lopez Obrador’s security approach reversed years of what came to be known as the kingpin strategy of taking down cartel leaders, which led to the fragmentation of large cartels and bloody battles for dominance. Lopez Obrador put all his faith in the military, disbanding the corrupt federal police and creating the national guard under military command.

The capture was the result of six months of reconnaissance and surveillance in the cartel’s territory, then quick action on Thursday, Sandoval said. National guard troops spotted SUVs, some with homemade armor, and immediately coordinated with the army as they established a perimeter around the suspicious vehicles and forced the occupants out to be searched.

While Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman is in a U.S. prison, four of his children are either under indictment or under investigation
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The security forces then came under fire but were able to gain control of the situation and identify Guzman among those present and in possession of firearms, Sandoval said.

Cartel members set up 19 roadblocks including at Culiacan’s airport and outside the local army base, as well as all points of access to the city of Culiacan, Sandoval said. Despite the efforts, the air force was able to fly Guzman to Mexico City, and he was taken to the office of the attorney general’s organized crime special prosecutor.

Sandoval said Guzman was a leader of a Sinaloa faction he called “los menores” or “the juniors,” who are also known as “los Chapitos,” for the sons of El Chapo.

Other “little Chapos” include two of his brothers — Ivan Archivaldo Guzman and Jesus Alfredo Guzman — who are believed to have been running cartel operations together with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.

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The Chapitos have been taking greater control in the cartel because Zambada was in poor health and isolated in the mountains, Vigil said. “The Chapitos know that if el Mayo dies, (the cartel) is going to break apart if they don’t have control.”

“It’s going to be very important that the U.S. requests Ovidio’s extradition quickly and that Mexico does it,” Vigil said.

Alleged cartel members responded to Thursday’s operation by carjacking Culiacan residents and setting vehicles ablaze in the cartel stronghold. Local and state authorities warned everyone to stay inside.

Cartel members set up 19 roadblocks including at Culiacan’s airport and outside the local army base, as well as all points of access to the city of Culiacan, Sandoval said. Despite the efforts, the air force was able to fly Guzman to Mexico City, and he was taken to the office of the attorney general’s organized crime special prosecutor.

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