Son of 'El Chapo' held in top-security prison in Mexico after 29 killed in arrest operation

ByKiarinna Parisi and Mitchell McCluskey, CNNWire
Friday, January 6, 2023
Son of drug lord 'El Chapo' captured in Mexico, authorities say
EMBED <>More Videos

Mexican security forces captured Ovidio Guzmán, an alleged drug trafficker wanted by the U.S. and one of the sons of former Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

MEXICO CITY -- Arrested drug cartel leader Ovidio Guzmán, the son of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, is being held in the Altiplano maximum security federal prison, officials said Friday, following an intense operation in northern Mexico that led to the deaths of 29 people.

Guzmán's arrest early Thursday morning prompted chaos around the city of Culiacán, as authorities urged members of the public not to leave the city while administrative activities were suspended.

His arrest was the result of a lengthy operation which involved 200 special forces, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said Friday. Local officials urged citizens to shelter at home amid clashes with cartel members in various parts of the city.

At least 19 suspected gang members and 10 military personnel died during violent clashes in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa, after authorities arrested Guzmán, along with 21 others. No civilian deaths or injuries were reported.

Security at Altiplano prison has been increased since Guzmán was detained, the minister added.

Guzmán was described as "a high-ranking member of the Sinaloa Cartel" in a statement issued by the United States State Department on December 16.

He was previously arrested by federal authorities in October 2019, but was released on the orders of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to avoid further bloodshed.

Guzmán's father, "El Chapo," had escaped from Altiplano prison on July 11, 2015, but was captured and convicted in the US four years later of 10 counts, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, drug trafficking and firearms charges. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and ordered to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.

The state of Sinaloa is home to one of the world's most powerful narcotics trafficking organizations, the Sinaloa Cartel, of which "El Chapo" was the leader.

The arrest of Ovidio Guzmán comes days before US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visit Mexico City to attend the North American Leaders Summit.

Capturing Guzmán could be a way for López Obrador to show the US that he is "in control of the armed forces and Mexico's security situation," Gladys McCormick, a associate professor at Syracuse University who focuses on Mexico-U.S. relations, told CNN in an email.

"It also defuses the power behind any ask from the Biden administration to stem the tide of fentanyl and other narcotics across the border," she added.

The State Department, which was offering a $5 million reward for information leading to Guzmán's arrest, wrote that law enforcement investigations indicated that Guzmán and his brother, Joaquín Guzmán-López, "inherited a great deal of the narcotics proceeds" following the death of another brother, Edgar Guzmán-López.

They "began investing large amounts of the cash into the purchasing of marijuana in Mexico and cocaine in Colombia. They also began purchasing large amounts of ephedrine from Argentina and arranged for the smuggling of the product into Mexico as they began to experiment with methamphetamine production," the State Department said.

The brothers are also alleged to oversee an estimated 11 "methamphetamine labs in the state of Sinaloa," the State Department says.

The CNN Wire & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.