Yesterday, the son of Mexican drug lord “El Chapo” was arrested in Mexico. Ovidio Guzmán-López, nicknamed “The Mouse,” has been of interest for many years and was briefly arrested in 2019.
Guzmán-López is accused of leading part of the Sinaloa Cartel – the notorious cartel of El Chapo who is currently living out his remaining years behind bars in the United States.
In a press conference on Thursday, the Mexican defense secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval announced that the Mexican Army and National Guard had detained “The Mouse” after a night of violence in Culiacan.
El Chapo’s son has been a target by the USA and Mexico for some time now. Last month, the US announced that they would pay $5m to anyone who could provide concrete information on Guzmán-López that would lead to an arrest/conviction.
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Riots in Response
With the Cartel boss detained, riots engulfed the state of Sinaloa, with cartel members firing back as expected. Gang members set up roadblocks, set fire to vehicles, and, most alarmingly, attacked a local airport.
The attack at the airport saw two commercial airplanes hit with gunfire, with one of them preparing for take-off when shots were fired. The fuselage on the plane, which was scheduled to fly from Culiacan to Mexico City, was sprayed with gunfire as the pilot was about to begin his journey down the runway.
The fuselage on an airplane is the long hollow tube that effectively holds all the pieces of an aircraft together. If it had been hit in the air, the situation could have been even more disastrous.
Videos shared on social media showed passengers on the aircraft ducking for cover and cowering underneath their seats as bullets penetrated the fuselage. Thankfully, no customers or employees were hurt. One of the passengers, David Tellez, explained the ordeal to Reuters news agency:
“As we were accelerating to take off, we heard gunshots very close to the plane, and that’s when we all threw ourselves to the floor.”
Although no one was hurt in this attack, 18 people have been admitted to hospital after the other attacks around the state.
Responding to the riots, Mayor Ruben Rocha Moya took to Twitter to confirm that federal armed forces have set up blockades in different parts of the city to try and regain control. The Mayor also urged residents to stay inside for their own safety.
School in Sinaloa will remain closed for the entirety of Friday, with gunshots still being exchanged between federal forces and cartel members across the state.
In 2019, Guzmán-López was briefly arrested but released because of concern over a potential backlash. That backlash is now coming to fruition and is sadly showing no signs of going away any time soon.
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What It Means for Travel
While the riots continue, more than 100 flights have been canceled across three airports in Sinaloa. The Mexican Federal Government have also updated their travel notice to inform travelers about the “widespread violence and security operations” in Sinaloa.
The US State Department has put travel to Sinaloa on level 4. This means that US citizens are being advised not to travel to the state at this time. Meanwhile, the Canadian Government has instructed Canadians in Mexico to limit their movements and take shelter.
US President, Joe Biden, is scheduled to visit Mexico City next week for a North American Leaders’ summit. While the trip is still set to go ahead, his arrival data has been moved a day forward. It is unclear whether this has anything to do with the situation in Sinaloa, which is over 1000 km away from Mexico City.