Wave of violence sweeps northern Mexico after El Chapo’s son arrested

Mexico City, Jan 6 (EFE).- Ovidio Guzmán, one of the sons of notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, was arrested in Mexico on Thursday, sparking a wave of violence during his dramatic transport to the same jail where his father was incarcerated.

Nicknamed “El Ratón,” Guzman, who carried a reward of up to $5 million on his head, is wanted by the United States, and his arrest comes days before a visit by President Joe Biden to Mexico next week.

Described by the US State Department as “a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel,” the drug lord’s arrest followed an intense military operation in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa.

A heavy security deployment in Culiacán city marked the arrest of one of the key figures in the cartel, sparking tension and triggering a wave of violence in Sinaloa, which is home to the powerful drug cartel “El Chapo” headed before his extradition to the US in 2017.

A helicopter of the Attorney General’s Office (FGR) that is part of the security transfer operation in which the authorities transport Ovidio Guzmán, son of ‘Chapo’, arrives at the Altiplano prison in Toluca, State of Mexico, Mexico, 05 January 2023. EFE/Felipe Gutiérrez

City residents were asked to stay home amid reports of clashes between security forces and cartel members in various parts of tense Culiacán city.

Social media videos showed armed groups attacking government facilities in the city and trying to block the drug lord from being transferred to Mexico City.

State governor Ruben Rocha told the newspaper Reforma that one member of the security forces was killed in the violence that resulted in injuries to 28 people, including three civilians.

The government reported incidents of arson, robbery, and looting in the city.

Amid the chaos in the city, the authorities closed the Federal International Airport of Culiacán as fierce gun battles occurred in the vicinity of the terminal.

Authorities still managed to fly the cartel leader to the capital in a Mexican Air Force (FAM) aircraft.

To maintain operational secrecy and ensure his safe transfer out of the state, the Mexican authorities first sent a convoy of eight vehicles and then a helicopter.

He was then taken to the Federal Center for Social Readaptation No. 1, La Palma, also known as the Almoloya prison, where his father was detained and escaped from in 2015.

A solid security ring covered the outskirts of the prison, with at least a dozen vehicles from the Mexican army and the National Guard protecting it.

The arrest occurred four days before Biden arrives in Mexico for the Summit of North American Leaders, which will also be attended by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

However, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard denied any connection between the arrest and the summit or any quid pro quo with the US government.

Ebrard confirmed an extradition request against Guzmán issued on September 19, 2019.

He is one of Guzmán’s four sons.

National Guard (GN) personnel guard the exterior of the Altiplano prison in Toluca, State of Mexico, Mexico, 05 January 2023. EFE/Felipe Gutiérrez

The US State Department says Guzmán and his brother, Joaquín Guzmán-López, have “inherited a great deal of the narcotics proceeds” following the death of another brother, Edgar Guzmán-López.

They are said to be high-ranking cartel members indicted for their involvement in illicit drug trafficking.

“El Chapo” was convicted in the US in 2019 and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and ordered to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.

In 2019, the Mexican government arrested Guzman and released him after his supporters sparked violence in the city

Authorities then said they suspended the operation to save lives. EFE

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