At least 29 killed in capture of Chapo’s son in MexicoThank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
MEXICO CITY, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Nineteen suspected gang members and 10 military personnel were killed in a wave of violence surrounding the arrest of Mexican drug cartel boss Ovidio Guzman in the northern state of Sinaloa, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said on Friday.
Mexican security forces captured Guzman, the 32-year-old son of jailed kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, in the early hours of Thursday morning, sparking hours of unrest and shootouts with gang members, the minister said.
Guzman was airlifted from the house where he was captured and flown to Mexico City before being taken to a maximum-security federal prison, Sandoval added.
The arrest prompts the powerful Sinaloa cartel – once led by El Chapo himself – to go going wildburning vehicles, blocking roads and fighting security forces in and around Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa.
Twenty-one other people were arrested during Thursday’s operations, Sandoval told a news conference, adding that there were no reports of civilian deaths.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said there were no immediate plans to extradite Ovidio to the United States, where his father is in a maximum-security prison after being extradited in 2017 and found guilty in a New York court.
“The elements (of the case) must be presented and the judges in Mexico must decide,” the president said. “It’s a process … It’s not just the request.” No U.S. forces have helped capture Ovidio, López Obrador said.
An increased security presence will now remain in Sinaloa, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, to protect the public, with another 1,000 troops traveling to the region today, Sandoval said.
Passengers on an Aeromexico passenger flight at Culiacan Airport crouched low under their seats when shots rang out around the track on Thursday.
“As we were speeding up for take off, we heard gunshots very close to the plane and then we all fell to the floor,” said passenger David Tellez. Aeromexico said one of its planes was hit by gunfire in Culiacan, but no one was hurt.
The airport was due to reopen later on Friday after being closed due to the violence.
In 2019, a botched operation to arrest Ovidio ended in humiliation for the López Obrador government. At the time, security forces briefly detained Ovidio, prompting a furious backlash from cartel loyalists and leading authorities to quickly release him to prevent the threat of further retaliation from his supporters.
His latest capture comes ahead of next week’s summit of North American leaders in Mexico City, which US President Joe Biden will attend. Security cooperation should be on the agenda.
THE QUESTION OF EXTRADITION
The United States has sought Guzman’s extradition for years.
In 2021, the State Department announced a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.
Guzman, known by the nickname “The Mouse”, is charged in the US with conspiring to traffic cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States. The State Department said he ran meth labs in Sinaloa responsible for producing “3,000 to 5,000 pounds” of the drug a month.
The State Department also said information showed he ordered multiple murders, including that of a popular Mexican singer who refused to play at his wedding.
Rising flows of the synthetic opioid fentanyl into the United States, where it has caused record overdose deaths, have increased pressure to capture Guzman.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration considers the Sinaloa cartel, along with one other gang, to be responsible for most of the fentanyl in the United States.
Additional reporting by Dave Graham Editing by Alistair Bell
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