On Thursday, Mexican security forces caught the son of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, who was already in jail. This was a big win in the fight against powerful drug cartels, just a few days before US Vice President Joe Biden comes to Mexico.
Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval told reporters that Ovidio Guzman, who was known as “El Raton” (The Mouse), was caught in the city of Culiacan in the northwest of Mexico and flown to Mexico City on a military plane.
He said that the arrest was the result of six months of work by intelligence agents to find the 32-year-old, who is said to have helped run his father’s business since “El Chapo” was sent to the US in 2017.
The US had offered a reward of up to $5 million for information that led to the capture of Ovidio Guzman, whom they said was a key member of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel.
After the arrest, gunfire and arson shook the city of Culiacan. This is happening as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador gets ready to welcome Vice President Joe Biden next week for the North American Leaders’ Summit, where security is likely to be a big topic.
As Guzman’s men reacted with anger, a bullet hit a passenger jet in the fuselage as it was getting ready to take off from Culiacan Airport. The airline, Aeromexico, said no one was hurt.
“El Chapo” is in prison for life in the United States because he brought hundreds of tonnes of drugs into the country over a 25-year period.
But his cartel is still one of the most powerful in Mexico. Washington accuses them of taking advantage of the opioid crisis by flooding communities with fentanyl, a synthetic drug that is 50 times stronger than heroin.
The US State Department says that Ovidio Guzman and one of his brothers were in charge of nearly a dozen methamphetamine labs in Sinaloa and planned to sell cocaine and marijuana.
He is also said to have ordered the deaths of informants, a drug dealer, and a Mexican singer who refused to sing at his wedding.
– Previous failed arrest –
Ovidio Guzman was briefly caught once in 2019, but security forces let him go after his drug cartel went to war.
On that day in Culiacan, gunmen started a huge machine gun attack that killed several people and left the streets full of burning cars.
Lopez Obrador was harshly criticised for letting him go. He said that he did it to protect the lives of civilians in the city of about 800,000 people.
After the latest arrest, the Sinaloa State government asked people to stay home on Thursday.
Since he took office in 2018, Lopez Obrador has tried to stop the brutal violence that has plagued Mexico.
He supported a strategy called “Hugs, Not Bullets” to stop violent crime at its roots by fighting poverty and inequality with social programmes instead of the army.
The left-wing populist has asked the U.S. to invest in regional economic development instead of sending helicopter gunships and other weapons to fight drug traffickers.
Since the government controversially sent the army to fight drug cartels in 2006, more than 340,000 people have been killed. Most of these deaths are blamed on criminal gangs.
On Sunday, gunmen from a drug cartel attacked a prison in the border city of Ciudad Juarez. The attack killed almost 20 people and let 25 prisoners escape.
The next day, when the police tried to get the prisoners back, seven people were killed.
Those who got away were Ernesto Alfredo Pinon, also known as “El Neto,” the leader of a gang that works with the Juarez drug cartel.
Pinon was sentenced to more than 200 years in prison in 2010 for kidnapping and murder. On Thursday, he was killed in a shootout with security forces.
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