Crime & Justice

29 dead as arrest of El Chapo son sparks wave of violence in Mexico’s Sinaloa

(Update 2: Adds latest death toll, adds detail throughout)

Mexico City, Jan 6 (EFE).- At least 29 people were killed in a wave of violence that swept northern Mexico following the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, one of the sons of notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, authorities said Friday.

Mexico’s defense secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said 10 of those killed were members of the Mexican Armed Forces and 19 belonged to the heavily armed criminal organizations that sparked the violence.

Nicknamed “El Ratón,” Guzmán, 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.

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.

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.

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