Mexican authorities have captured Ovidio Guzmán-Lopez, a drug trafficker and one of former cartel leader El Chapo’s sons, unleashing a spate of violence in Mexico — just days before President Biden’s state visit to the country next week, according to reports.
There were reports of violence Thursday throughout northwestern Mexico, where Guzmán-Lopez was captured, including at Culiacán International Airport, although The Post has not been able to verify this. The US Embassy in Mexico tweeted “Reports of gun fire in multiple locations.”
Known as “El Raton” or the Rat, Guzmán-Lopez, 32, is a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel once ruled by his father Joaqín “El Chapo” Guzmán, who is serving a life sentence for drug trafficking and murder at a maximum security prison in Colorado.
“That’s great news that they arrested him,” said Robert Almonte, a Texas-based security consultant and former El Paso narcotics investigator. “However, I am suspicious that his capture occurred days before President Biden’s visit to Mexico and meeting with President [Andres Manuel Lopez] Obrador. This goes to show that the Mexican government can find and arrest the cartel leaders if they really want to.”
Obrador, who took office in 2018 and has stressed social programs and community development rather than waging a war on drugs to stem trafficking in Mexico, was roundly criticized in 2019 after Mexican authorities captured Guzmán-Lopez a first time and then let him go under pressure from the Sinaloa cartel.
Guzman-Lopez and his brother, Joaquin Guzmán-Loera, control their own drug-smuggling operations under the umbrella of the Sinaloa Cartel, according to the US Department of State, which announced a $5 million reward for information leading to El Raton’s arrest last year. Guzman-Lopez also ordered the murder of cartel informants, a drug trafficker and a popular Mexican singer who refused to sing at his wedding, according to reports.
The brothers allegedly oversee 11 methamphetamine labs in Sinaloa state, producing up to 5,000 pounds of the drug per month. They are also important producers of fentanyl, according to authorities. The brothers were indicted by a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, in 2018 on drug-trafficking charges.
Thursday’s arrest in Culiacan, capital of Sinaloa state, came three years after the Mexican army briefly detained Guzmán-Lopez but quickly released him after Sinaloa cartel hitmen seized control of the city in a melee that resulted in the death of 13 people.
The operation to capture Guzmán-Lopez took place at dawn on Thursday in Culiacan and involved 900 army and Mexican national guard troops, according to Mexican news reports. Gunfights broke out throughout the city, with videos showing a helicopter gunship firing on a home in the outskirts of the city.
Guzmán-Lopez is the son of Griselda Lopez Perez, El Chapo’s second wife, who was detained in May 2010 for drug trafficking, but is no longer in custody. In addition to Guzmán-Lopez, the couple has three other children. Their eldest son, Edgar, was gunned down by rival drug traffickers in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Culiacan in 2008.
President Biden is scheduled to be in Mexico City next week for the North American Leaders’ Summit.