Ovidio Guzman arrest: Mexico capture son of drug lord ‘El Chapo’ as city of Culiacan descends into heavy fighting | World News

A gun battle has erupted in the capital of the Mexican state of Sinaloa after security forces captured a son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, who is wanted by the United States on drug-trafficking charges.

Defense Secretary Luis Crescencio Sandoval said military and National Guard personnel arrested 32-year-old Ovidio Guzman in a pre-dawn operation in Culiacan.

An attempt to arrest Ovidio three years ago led to government humiliation when President Andrew Manuel López Obrador ordered the military to let him go after gunmen opened fire on the city with high-powered weapons.

Photo of Ovidio Guzman during his failed arrest in 2019.  Photo: AP
Photo of Ovidio Guzman during his failed arrest in 2019. Photo: AP

This time in Sinaloa, local and state officials warned residents to stay indoors, suspended local government activities and closed schools, while the Mexican military closed Culiacan’s airport amid gunfire.

Mexican airline Aeromexico said one of its planes had come under fire before a scheduled flight to Mexico City, but no one was injured.

Videos on social media showed fierce fighting across the city as the sky lit up with helicopter gunfire.

Ovidio’s arrest comes ahead of Mr López Obrador hosting a summit of North American leaders in Mexico City next week, at which US President Joe Biden will want to discuss drug trafficking.

“This is a significant blow to the Sinaloa cartel and a major victory for the rule of law,” said Mike Weigel, the DEA’s former chief of international operations.

“However, it will not impede the flow of drugs into the United States. Hopefully, Mexico will hand it over to the United States.”

Six months of surveillance in cartel territory

Mr. Sandoval said Ovidio’s arrest was the result of six months of surveillance and surveillance in cartel territory.

National Guard troops spotted the SUVs, some with homemade armor, and quickly linked up with the military as they surrounded the suspect vehicles and forced the passengers to search them. .

Security forces then came under fire but were able to control the situation and identify Ovidio among those present and armed, Mr. Sandoval said.

Cartel members set up 19 roadblocks covering all access points to the city of Culiacan, including outside Culiacan’s airport and the local military base.

Drug gang members set fire to cars and buses.
Drug gang members set fire to cars and buses.

The leader of the ‘junior’ faction

Mr. Sandoval said Ovidio was the leader of a Sinaloa faction he called “Los Menores” or “Juniors,” also known as “Los Chaptos” or “The Little Chapos.”

The other “little chapos” are his two brothers, Ivan Archivaldo Guzman and Jesus Alfredo Guzman, who are believed to have been running cartel operations with Ismail “El Mayo” Zambada.

Mr Weigel said the Chipitos were gaining more control over the cartel because Zambada was in poor health and isolated in the mountains.

“The Chaptos know that if El Mayo dies, (the cartel) will collapse if they don’t have control,” he said.

“It will be very important that the United States request the early extradition of Ovidio and that Mexico do so.”

A soldier stands guard near the wreckage of a burnt-out car that was set on fire by drug gang members as a deterrent.
A soldier stands guard near the wreckage of a burnt-out car

The US offered a $5 million reward.

A 2018 federal indictment in Washington, D.C. charged Ovidio with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and cannabis in the United States.

The US has offered a $5m (£4m) reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Ovidio, who has become a key figure in the cartel since the arrest of his father.

It is unclear whether Ovidio will be extradited to the United States like his father, who is serving a life sentence at a supermax prison in Colorado.

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