Mexican security forces captured Ovidio Guzman, an alleged drug trafficker wanted by the United States and one of the sons of notorious drug lord ‘El Chapo‘.
On Thursday, Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said Army and National Guard personnel had arrested Guzman in an operation that set off gunfights and roadblocks across the western state’s capital.
Sandoval identified him only as Ovidio due to government policy. Guzman had not been one of El Chapo’s better-known sons until an aborted operation to capture him three years ago. That attempt similarly set off violence in Culiacan, ultimately leading President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to order the military to let him go.
Iván Archivaldo Guzmán and Jesús Alfredo Guzmán are known as “Los Chapitos,” or “the little Chapos,” and are believed to be running their father’s cartel together with Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada.
During Ovidio’s arrest, local and state officials in Sinaloa warned residents to stay inside, suspended local government activities, and closed schools. The Mexican military closed Culican’s airport due to an Aeromexico flight being struck by a stray bullet right before takeoff.
“This morning, a bullet impact was detected in the fuselage of an Embraer 190 plane that was ready to start flight AM165 on the Culiacan-Mexico City route, which was canceled for security reasons,” Aeromexico said in a statement. “The plane never started its takeoff run. After this accident, the company’s protocols were activated and the corresponding authorities were notified, with whom we will coordinate the investigations. Customers and collaborators are safe.”
Guzman was transported by military aircraft from Culiacán back to Mexico City late morning on Thursday. Officials said the operation had been in the works for more than six months.
The high-profile capture comes a few days before Lopez Obrador will host U.S. President Joe Biden for bilateral talks followed by a North American Leaders’ Summit with Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Drug trafficking and immigration are expected to be the top talking points during the summit.
Guzmán is allegedly a major trafficker of fentanyl and other drugs to the United States and has been helping to lead a now-fractured Sinaloa Cartel since his father’s extradition years ago.
El Chapo is serving a life sentence in the U.S. after being convicted in 2019 of conducting a continuing criminal enterprise, including large-scale narcotics violations and a murder conspiracy, drug trafficking conspiracies, unlawful use of a firearm, and a money laundering conspiracy.