UNDERSTAND IT ALL – Why the arrest of ‘El Chapo’ son sparked violence in Mexico

Accused of drug trafficking himself, son of drug dealer “El Chapo” was arrested Thursday in Mexico, after the first unsuccessful arrest of 2019. Scenes of violence erupted in the northwest of the country.

Striking image. In Mexico, violence has erupted particularly in the streets of Culiacán, a city in the northwest of the country, in recent days, between drug cartels and police forces. The climate of tension was fueled by the arrest of the son of notorious drug dealer “El Chapo” Thursday in an operation that killed at least 29 people, according to the Mexican government.

• What is the level of violence?

The situation got out of control in the state of Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico. In the city of Culiacán in particular, videos posted on social networks show burning vehicles and gunfire in the street between security forces and gunmen. Gunfire also occurred from a currently unidentified helicopter.

According to an interim report provided by the governor of the state, one national guard was killed and 28 people are currently hospitalized.

The city’s airport was also hit by violence, with an Aeromexico plane being hit shortly after takeoff. Impressive scene, but no injury.

The airport, as well as Mazatlan and Los Mochis, two other cities in Sinaloa state, remain closed as a security measure. Schools and administrative premises also closed their doors.

• What triggers the violence?

Scenes of violence began after Thursday’s arrest of Ovidio Guzman, the son of notorious Mexican drug dealer Joaquin Guzman, nicknamed “El Chapo” (the little one), is currently imprisoned in the United States.

The operation was carried out in Culiacan and killed at least 29 people, according to the Mexican government. The 32-year-old man, also a drug dealer, was then transferred to Mexico City to be tried by prosecutors, before joining El Altiplano prison.

As well as “El Chapo’s” son, another gang leader, who was allied with the Juarez cartel, which opposed Ovidio Guzman, was killed. This is Ernesto Piñon, alias “El Neto”, who escaped from prison on Sunday after an armed attack on the prison.

• What do we know about “El Chapo’s” son?

A 32 year old Mexican, Ovidio Guzman is the son of “El Chapo”. Nicknamed “El Raton” (rat), he is accused of leading the Los Menores faction, linked to the Sinaloa Cartel, according to the Minister of Defense.

In 2008, he started drug dealing, after the death of his brother Edgar, was shot dead. With his three other brothers Joaquin, Ivan Archivaldo and Jesus Alfredo, he purchased marijuana in Mexico, cocaine in Colombia and ephedrine in Argentina to produce methamphetamine which was then sold in Canada and the United States.

The lab run by Ovidio Guzman produces an estimated 1,360 kg to 2,200 kg of methamphetamine per month, according to US authorities.

• Why was his arrest such a big blow?

The son of a notorious drug dealer, the hero of a television series produced by Netflix in 2017, and himself an influential drug dealer, “El Raton” has been wanted for years by Mexican authorities.

In 2019, he was even arrested for the first time, but this arrest caused a wave of violence in Culiacan at that time. To calm the situation, drug dealers were released by order of the president who said he wanted to avoid bloodshed.

This decision, which was widely criticized, was seen as an affront to Mexican authorities.

• Why was his arrest claimed by the United States?

$5 million prize. This is what the United States offers in exchange for the capture of “El Raton”. Described as an “important member of the Sinaloa cartel” by a press release from American authorities published on December 16, the drug dealers are indeed closely followed by the United States, where drug dealers sell the bulk of their production.

Joe Biden’s state is currently facing an increasing number of deaths from overdoses of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that causes rapid addiction. Therefore, the American authorities are increasing pressure on the Mexican drug cartels behind the production and delivery of their products to the United States.

President Joe Biden is expected in Mexico on Sunday for an official visit and a North America summit.

Juliette Desmonceaux with AFP

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