MEXICO CITY – Mexican security force captured Ovidio Guzman (son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman), a drug cartel leader. The capture sparked violence ahead of a U.S. president Joe Biden’s next week visit.
The violence occurred mainly in Culiacan, northern Sinaloa’s capital. It is home to the powerful drug cartel named El Chapo before he was extradited to the United States in 2017.
Ruben Rocha, state governor, said that seven members of security forces were killed, including one colonel. He also stated that 21 people had been injured and eight civilians had been hurt.
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Rocha claimed that 12 clashes took place with security forces, there were 25 looting acts, and 250 vehicles were set on ablaze and used to block roads.
“Tomorrow we believe we will be in a position to work normally,” he stated, noting that he had not considered calling for additional reinforcements from the army and the National Guard.
The government of President Andres Manuel Obrador suffered humiliation after a failed attempt to detain Ovidio. A wave of violence erupted following the arrest, which led to the closure of schools and airports in Culiacan.
Ovidio was quickly released from prison to end the violence of the cartel.
Luis Cresencio Sandoval (defense minister) confirmed that Ovidio, 32, was captured on Thursday. He said Ovidio was being detained in Mexico City, the capital.
Videos from social media that Reuters could not immediately verify showed fighting in Culiacan over the night, with helicopter gunfire lighting up the sky.
Aeromexico (AEROMEX.MX.MX.MX.MX.MX.MX.MX.MX.MX.MX.X) claimed one of their planes was damaged by gunfire just before a scheduled flight to Mexico City. According to it, no one was hurt.
David Tellez, a fellow passenger, stated that he and his family decided to stay at the airport until safety permits.
“The city has become worse,” he stated. “There’s a lot of confusion and shooting.”
The federal aviation agency also said that a Mexican air force plane was also attacked. It added that the airports in Culiacan as well as those in Sinaloa’s cities of Mazatlan, Los Mochis, and Mazatlan were to remain closed until security is established.
Ovidio’s latest capture is made before the North American leaders summit in Mexico City next Wednesday, where U.S. President Joe Biden attends and is expected discuss security.
The United States offered $5 million in reward for information that led to Ovidio’s capture or conviction.
It is unknown if Ovidio, his father who is currently serving a life sentence in Colorado’s Supermax federal prison, will be extradited to America.
The rise in drug overdose deaths in America, due to synthetic opioid fentanyl (Sinaloa Cartel), has increased pressure on Mexico.
The cartel is one the most powerful narcotics trafficking groups in the world.
Tomas Guevara from the Autonomous University of Sinaloa said that Ovidio’s 2019 release in custody has helped Mexican law enforcement to save face.
Guevara stated that this could also signal a change of government policy after security experts had accused Lopez Obrador of being too soft on cartels. Guevara denied the accusation.
The president claims that his predecessors’ confrontational tactics only resulted in more bloodshed and were futile. He will instead advocate for a strategy of “hugs rather than bullets.”
RESIDENTS REQUESTED TO STAY INDOORS
Security forces used heavily armed teams to patrol pickup trucks in order to subdue the violent response to Culiacan’s arrest.
Sinaloa’s public security chief Cristobal Castaneda stated, “We continue working on controlling the situation.”
Authorities asked people to stay inside and advised that schools and administrative offices would be closed due to violence. Street blockades were also erected.
Joaquin Guzman (65) was convicted in New York for trafficking drugs in the United States worth billions of dollar and conspiring with others to murder.
Eduardo Guerrero from Lantia Consulting who analyzes Mexican organized crime said that Mexico had likely been motivated by pressure from the Biden Administration to target the Sinaloa Cartel.
However, he cautioned that Ovidio’s capture could weaken the cartel, but it could also help its main competitor, the notoriously violent Jalisco-New Generation Cartel.
“It’s important for the government to remember that the Sinaloa Cartel could be weaker, which may result in an even greater expansion, and a greater presence from the Jalisco Cartel.”