Ovidio Guzmán-López, the son of infamous cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was transferred to a maximum security Mexican prison on Thursday – just hours after his arrest triggered an outbreak of gang violence that killed seven people.
After being captured in the Jesús María district of the northwestern city of Culiacán and an initial transfer to Mexico City, Excelsior reported that Guzmán-López was flown by helicopter to Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1, or “Altiplano,” a maximum security facility near Toluca.
Nicknamed “El Ratón,” or “The Mouse,” Guzmán-López, 32, is believed to be a high-ranking faction leader within his father’s notorious Sinaloa cartel. The U.S. State Department previously promised a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts.
News of his arrest subsequently sparked a wave of violent protests as furious gang members in Culiacán, Los Mochis, and Guasave established roadblocks, set vehicles alight, and opened fire on local airports.
Footage from a plane at Culiacán International Airport shows terrified passengers ducking to avoid gun shots during a shootout on the runway. According to the BBC, more than 100 flights were cancelled at three airports in the region.
Sinaloa Governor Ruben Rocha also issued a shelter-in-place warning as a spate of looting and carjackings forced businesses throughout the state to temporarily close.
“I don’t know what a war zone is like, but I think it’s the same thing [as this],” Roberto, a Culiacán resident, told EL PAÍS on Thursday. He was one of many who had their vehicles stolen at gunpoint.
By the end of the day, Rocha confirmed that seven security force members, including a colonel, were killed in violence. Twenty-one injuries were also reported, seven of them civilians.
EL PAÍS noted that Thursday’s carnage was similar to the violence that followed Guzmán-López’s first arrest in 2019. In that instance, members of the Sinaloa cartel faction Los Chapitos were able to force his release using threats of widespread civilian casualties.
Guzmán-López’s latest capture notably comes just one week before President Joe Biden is set to visit Mexico and meet with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, prompting some experts to question the optics of the arrest.
“I am suspicious that [Guzmán-López’s] capture occurred days before President Biden’s visit to Mexico,” Robert Almonte, a Texas-based security consultant and former El Paso narcotics investigator, told The Post on Thursday.
“This goes to show that the Mexican government can find and arrest the cartel leaders if they really want to.”
Guzmán-López’s father, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, was once the most powerful drug trafficker and most wanted fugitive in the world. He is currently serving a life sentence at a Colorado federal prison after a jury convicted him of 10 counts, including criminal enterprise and cocaine distribution, in 2019.
Guzmán-López has reportedly been involved in his father’s nefarious business since his teen years. Together with his brother, Joaquín, he is thought to control 11 methamphetamine labs in Sinaloa that produce up to 5,000 pounds of the deadly drug per month.
With Post wires