Ovidio Guzman, son of ‘El Chapo,’ arrested in Mexico with 29 killed in operation
In a major operation in the northern state of Sinaloa, Mexico, at least 29 people, including 10 soldiers, were killed during an attempt to arrest Ovidio Guzman, the son of jailed drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The operation, which took place on Thursday, resulted in the arrest of Ovidio, also known as “El Raton” or “The Mouse,” and the detainment of 21 other individuals.
Ovidio was captured early on Thursday and was subsequently flown to Mexico City on a military plane. According to Defence Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval, the operation to arrest Ovidio was the result of six months of intelligence work. Sandoval stated that 10 soldiers “unfortunately lost their lives in the line of duty” during the operation, while 19 “lawbreakers” were also killed. Another 35 soldiers were injured, with 35 sustaining gunshot wounds.
Members of the Sinaloa Cartel and their associates responded to Ovidio’s arrest with violence, including fighting with security forces, setting vehicles on fire, and blocking roads across the Pacific coastal state. The violence was concentrated in and around Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa and the home of the powerful drug cartel.
Sandoval stated that a passenger plane at Culiacan airport and two air force planes were also hit during the offensive launched by the Sinaloa Cartel to rescue Ovidio. The air force planes “had to make an emergency landing” after receiving “a significant number of impacts,” but no one was injured.
In addition to Ovidio and the 21 other individuals arrested during the operation, an enhanced security presence will remain in Sinaloa to protect the public. An additional 1,000 military personnel will be deployed to the region.
Ovidio is accused by the US Department of State of overseeing nearly a dozen methamphetamine labs in Sinaloa as well as conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana. He is also alleged to have ordered the murders of informants, a drug trafficker, and a Mexican singer who refused to perform at his wedding.
Despite the violence and chaos caused by the operation, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador stated that there are no immediate plans to extradite Ovidio to the US. “The elements [of the case] have to be presented and the judges in Mexico decide,” Obrador said. “It is a process… It is not just the request.”
The arrest of Ovidio comes just days before US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are scheduled to meet with Obrador in Mexico City for two days of talks. While Mexican officials have tried to downplay the timing of the operation, many observers are sceptical. It is not uncommon for the Mexican government to try to secure a “big win,” such as capturing drugs or arresting high-level cartel members, prior to high-level meetings.
The Sinaloa Cartel, once led by “El Chapo,” remains one of the most powerful in Mexico and has been accused by the US of exploiting the opioid epidemic by flooding communities with fentanyl, a synthetic drug that is 50 times more potent than heroin. “ElChapo” is currently serving a life sentence in the US for trafficking hundreds of tonnes of drugs into the country over the course of 25 years.
The arrest of Ovidio and the violence that followed have raised questions about the effectiveness of targeting and arresting high-level cartel members. In the past, the strategy of “knocking out kingpins” and hoping that the entire structure of a cartel falls apart has been shown to be ineffective. Instead, cartels have either carried on with their operations or splintered into different