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El Chapo’s fugitive son Ovidio Guzman is arrested by Mexican authorities

The arrest of Ovidio Guzman, who became a kingpin in the Sinaloa Cartel after his father’s arrest and extradition to the US, was confirmed by Mexico’s defence secretary

Bevan Hurley
Thursday 05 January 2023 21:31 GMT
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The son of notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been arrested in Mexico, authorities have confirmed.

Sinaloa Cartel capo Ovidio Guzman, known as “El Raton”, or The Mouse, was detained on Thursday by the Army and National Guard, the Mexican defence secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval told a news conference.

The arrest came during a night of violence that paralysed the Sinaloan city of Culiacan on Thursday, city officials said.

Residents were warned to remain inside after cartel members carjacked residents and set vehicles ablaze, blocking exits to several cities in the western Mexico state.

“We ask the citizens of Culiacán not to leave home, due to the blockades that have occurred in different parts of the city,” the city’s mayor Juan de Dios Gamez wrote on Twitter.

The explosion of violence was believed to be linked to Mr Guzman’s arrest.

Ovidio Guzman, El Chapo’s son, pictured during his previous arrest in Sinaloa, Mexico, in 2019 (Washington Post / screen grab)

Sinaloa governor Ruben Rocha Moya tweeted that Federal Armed Forces had been carrying out an operation in the Sinaloa village of Jesús María since dawn on Thursday.

“This has given rise to some violent events in the capital and other parts of the State,” Mr Rocha Moya posted.

Mexico City news outlet La Jornada was first to report on Guzman’s arrest, citing Mexican security sources.

Ovidio Guzman was previously arrested in Sinaloa in 2019 by Mexico’s security forces, but he was quickly released when his drug gang threatened violent retaliation in an embarrassing moment for authorities.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán was convicted in a US federal court in 2019 of 10 charges of including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, drug trafficking and firearms charges. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and ordered to pay $12.6bn in forfeiture.

His son Ovidio Guzman rose through the ranks of the Sinaloa Cartel to become one of its top capos after the arrest.

According to Radio Formula, Ovidio Guzman has already been transferred to Campo 1, the top military base in Mexico City.

Ioan Grillo, a Mexico City-based author and journalist, said in a Twitter post that the timing of the arrest on the eve of a presidential visit by Joe Biden was significant.

“It’s right before a Biden visit to Mexico. So perfect timing for Mexico to capture a major narco,” Mr Grillo posted on Twitter.

Mr Grillo wrote that Mexican authorities had conducted a major operation in the village of Jesus Maria, where Guzman’s mother lives.

“A source in Sinaloa tells me that Ovidio’s mother has a house there - so it could have been an op to arrest Ovidio on a visit,” he posted.

Images of burning trucks and buses blocking roads in Culiacan were posted to Twitter by La Gaceta journalist Juan Francisco Lagarda.

“Culiacan burning,” he wrote. “And here in Los Moschis they’ve already blocked all the exits. Extreme caution!”

Ovidio Guzman Lopez is wanted for drug trafficking in the United States (Immigration and Customs Enforcement )

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed during a Thursday morning news conference that there was an ongoing operation in Culiacan, but did not provide any further details, according to the Associated Press.

Mr Biden is due to visit Mexico City for a North American leaders summit on Monday. He will also travel to the border city of El Paso, where he said he hoped to see “what’s going on” at the border in comments on Wednesday.

The arrest could set up an tug-of-war between authorities in Mexico and the US, where Ovidio Guzman is wanted on drug trafficking charges.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a $5m reward for information leading to his arrest after he was indicted on drug trafficking charges by a Grand Jury in 2018.

According to the US State Department, Ovidio Guzman and his brother Joaquín Guzmán-López oversee 11 drug labs in the state of Sinaloa that produce 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of pure methamphetamine each month. 

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