At least 29 killed in Mexico capture of Chapo’s son; U.S. extradition not guaranteed

MEXICO CITY, Jan 6 (Reuters) – Nineteen gang members and 10 military personnel were killed in a wave of violence in Sinaloa state following the arrest of Mexican drug cartel boss Ovidio Guzman on Friday, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said.

Mexican security forces captured Guzman, the 32-year-old son of jailed kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, on Thursday morning, leading to hours of chaos and shootouts with gang members, the minister said.

Sandoval added that Guzmán was taken by helicopter from the detention center and flown to Mexico City to a maximum-security federal prison.

The arrest sent the powerful Sinaloa cartel – once led by El Chapo himself – into a frenzy, burning cars, blocking roads and fighting security forces in and around the capital of Sinaloa, Culiacan.

Another 21 people were arrested in Thursday’s operations, Sandoval said at a news conference, adding that there were no reports of civilian casualties.

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President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said there are no plans to extradite Ovidio, who is in a maximum security prison after his father was extradited and convicted in a New York court in 2017.

“The elements of the case must be presented and the courts in Mexico must decide,” the president said. “It’s a process… It’s not just a request.” According to López Obrador, US forces did not help in the capture of Ovidio.

Sandoval said security measures would be stepped up in Sinaloa, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, to protect the public, and an additional 1,000 troops would be deployed to the area today.

Passengers on an Aeromexico passenger jet were hunched over their seats after shots were fired on the runway at the Culiacan airport on Thursday.

Passenger David Telles said: “As we were taking off, we heard shots very close to the plane and we all threw ourselves down.” Aeromexico said one of its planes was shot at in Culiacan, but no one was injured.

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The airport was due to reopen on Friday evening after being closed due to violence.

In 2019, a failed operation to arrest Ovidio ended in the humiliation of López Obrador’s government. At that time, security forces briefly detained Ovidio, prompting a backlash from cartel loyalists and leading officials, who quickly released him to avoid further retribution from his followers.

His latest arrest comes ahead of next week’s summit of North American leaders in Mexico City, which will be attended by US President Joe Biden. Security cooperation will be on the agenda.


The US has been seeking Guzmán’s extradition for years.

In 2021, the State Department announced a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

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Guzman, known by the nickname “Mouse”, was charged in the United States with trafficking cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana into the United States. According to the State Department, he controlled the methamphetamine labs in Sinaloa and was responsible for producing “3,000 to 5,000 pounds” of the drug per month.

The State Department also said the intelligence had ordered several murders, including that of a famous Mexican singer who refused to perform at his wedding.

A surge in the flow of the synthetic opioid fentanyl into the United States, which has led to record overdose deaths, has increased pressure to capture Guzman.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration believes the Sinaloa Cartel, along with another gang, is responsible for most of the fentanyl in the United States.

Additional reporting by Dave Graham Editing by Alistair Bell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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