On Thursday, January 5th 2023, the Mexican authorities apprehended Ovidio Guzman – the son of notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzman – who is at the helm of a powerful drug cartel.
That unleashed a violent backlash from the guerrillas on Thursday, forcing the closure of Culiacán’s airport, as authorities asked residents to stay at home.
For his part, Defense Minister Luis Crescencio Sandoval said in a press conference that the security forces arrested the 32-year-old prominent member of the Sinaloa gang, after three years of an arrest attempt that ended in humiliation for the government.
Videos showed heavy fighting overnight in Culiacán, the main city in the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa, as helicopter gunships lit up the sky.
La mañana de este miércoles se registraron #Bloqueos y #Balaceras en Culiacán, #Sinaloa, tras un operativo realizado por fuerzas federales en la comunidad de Jesús María.— Agencia Mexiquense de Noticias (@AMXNoticias) January 5, 2023
In a rather unfortunate and unsettling event, the city’s airport witnessed violence as the state airline observed fire being directed at one of its planes prior to takeoff for an upcoming flight bound for Mexico City. Thankfully, nobody was harmed in this abrupt episode; however, due to safety concerns, operations had been halted until Thursday evening.
#Actualización || Así luce Culiacán, #Sinaloa, tras la detención de Ovidio Guzmán, alias “El Ratón” e hijo de “El Chapo”; los incendios no han cesado.— Agencia Mexiquense de Noticias (@AMXNoticias) January 5, 2023
🎥: Redes#AgenciaMxNoticias pic.twitter.com/ENL4pWEEYV
Ovidio was briefly arrested in 2019, but was quickly released to end his gang’s violent revenge in Culiacán. The incident was an embarrassing setback for the government of President Andres Manuel López Obrador. Ovidio has become a key figure in the gang since his father’s arrest.
Events on the sidelines of a global summit
His latest arrest comes ahead of a summit of North American leaders in Mexico City next week, which US President Joe Biden will attend and has security issues on the agenda.
The United States has generously put forward a $5 million reward for anyone who supplies crucial intelligence that leads to the capture or conviction of Ovidio.
It is not yet clear if he will be extradited to the United States like his father, who is serving a life sentence in Colorado’s Supermax prison, the most secured US federal prison.
On Thursday morning, the security forces were trying to contain a violent reaction to the arrest of Guzmán’s accomplices in the Culiacán region.
The local government urged people to stay home and said schools and administrative offices were closed due to the violence. Barricades have also been set up in the streets.
“We asked the people of Culiacán not to leave their homes due to the closures that are taking place in different areas of the city,” Juan de Dios Gamez, the mayor of Culiacán, wrote on Twitter.
Joaquin Guzman, 65, was convicted in New York in 2019 of smuggling billions of dollars in drugs into the United States and conspiring to kill enemies.