Earlier, sources told Reuters The capture took place at dawn after an operation involving the army’s elite group.
“In the early morning hours of January 5, Mexican Army and National Guard (…) personnel arrested Ovidio, the leader of the Los Menors unit. Pacific Cartel“Defense Secretary Luis Sandoval said, referring to a different name The Sinaloa Cartel, One of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world.
“This arrest is a major blow to the power leadership of the Pacific Cartel.” was added.
Sandoval explained that the capture was the result of a six-month reconnaissance and surveillance mission.. However, experts assured that the move will be related to the visit of the US President next week. Joe Biden.
After the arrest of their leader, gunmen from the gang carried out 19 sieges and attacks in the area, including the Culiacan International Airport. Capital Sinaloaand a military air base.
After his arrest, Guzmán, 32, was flown to Mexico City on a military plane.
Even after late afternoon, security forces were struggling to restore order in various areas SinaloaLocated in the north-west of the country.
Ovidio, who became a key figure in the cartel after his father was arrested in 2016, was detained by security forces in October 2019 but quickly released by his aides to avoid “bloodshed”. , in an embarrassing setback for Mexican authorities.
From 2018 onwards, Guzmán is wanted by US authorities for flooding the country with fentanyl, a powerful chemical that has fueled an epidemic of deaths in the US. Washington is offering a reward of up to $5 million for information leading to his arrest.
“Arrest Ovid It is finally the culmination of something planned three years ago. It’s a news that it’s not going to be easy for them to free her.said Tomás Guevara, an expert on drug trafficking issues in Sinaloa.
“Undoubtedly, this is a strong blow because the criminal organization has the largest export of fentanyl. His capture is, in large part, related to pressure from the US government, which has already requested his extradition.“, he added.
Guzmán’s arrest may herald a change in the government’s approach President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has denied the allegation, after criticism from many security experts that he was not open with the cartels.
The president argues that the confrontational tactics of his predecessors have failed and caused more casualties. Instead, he proposed a strategy of “hugs, not bullets” upon assuming power in December 2018.
“Don’t leave your house”
Thursday afternoon, Security forces were still busy trying to control the reaction of Guzmán’s gunmen. The violence forced the international airport Kuliagan Their operations should be shut down.
Minutes earlier, an Aeromexico flight was trying to take off for Mexico City when it was intercepted. The Embraer 190 was hit by a bullet, but the airline assured that passengers and crew were safe.
The local government urged Culiacanenses to stay at home He also said schools and administrative offices have been closed due to violence. “Don’t leave your house, don’t go to work”State Governor Ruben Rocha instructed. The violence also forced the rescheduling of a local league football match.
Unverified videos on social media show heavy gunfire, including from helicopters, in the early hours of the morning. Also, roadblocks and cars, buses and trucks were set on fire.
Days after Ovidio’s capture, Biden meets with his Mexican counterpart to discuss bilateral security issues. In the middle of last year, after a meeting between the two leaders, Mexican authorities arrested Rafael Caro Quintero, a drug trafficker wanted by Washington.
Ovidio is part of a group called “Los Chapitos”.made by children”El Chapo”, who took control of the Sinaloa cartel after capturing Capo, who is serving a life sentence in a Colorado prison in the US.
López Obrador has acknowledged that one of the main challenges of his government, which expires in October 2024, will be curbing the level of insecurity. However, his mandate aims to end the most violent six-year period in Mexico’s modern history.
“We’ll see in the coming weeks whether this is part of a larger strategy or whether it’s a reputational and short-term message for the US government,” said Eduardo Guerrero, director of Landia Intelligence, a crime analysis firm. arranged.
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