Through the arrest of Ovidio Guzman, the son of drug kingpin El Chapo, the Mexican president wants to show Joe Biden that he is in control. The US Department of State had set a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Ovidio, who is also known as "The Mouse".
An operation to capture him three years ago had to be aborted as it had set off violence in Culiacan. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ordered the military to let him go.
The arrest comes just days before Mexico is set to host the US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for bilateral talks and North American Leaders' Summit.
Lopez Obrador's approach to taking down drug lords and gangs is called the "kingpin strategy". It has positively taken out large cartels and bloody battles for domination. The Mexican president was able to achieve this by strengthening the military, dissolving the corrupt Federal Police and creating the National Guard under military command.
Gladys McCormick, a associate professor at Syracuse University and an expert on Mexico-US relations, believes capturing Guzman could be a way for Lopez Obrador to show the US that he is in control of the armed forces and Mexico's security situation. "It also defuses the power behind any ask from the Biden administration to stem the tide of fentanyl and other narcotics across the border."
Six Months of Surveillance
The high-prolific arrest came after six months of surveillance in the cartel's territory. This was followed by a quick and swift action on Thursday. Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval said National Guard troops spotted SUVs, some with homemade armor, and immediately coordinated with the army as they established a perimeter around the suspicious vehicles and forced the occupants out to be searched. "The security forces came under fire, but were able to gain control of the situation and identify Guzman among those present and in possession of firearms."
To counter the arrest, Cartel members set up 19 roadblocks at the Culiacan airport and outside the local army base, and all points of access to the city of Culiacan. But the Air Force managed to fly Guzman to Mexico City where he was taken to offices of the Attorney General's organized crime special prosecutor. However, the arrest led to riots and violence in the city. Gang members have carjacked Culiacan residents, set vehicles on fire and clashed with security forces.
Guzman was a leader of a Sinaloa faction which he called "los menores" or los Chapitos – for the sons of El Chapo.