Son of drug lord El Chapo Guzman has been captured in Mexico, sparking major violence
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
The son of the notorious drug lord known as El Chapo has been captured in Mexico. Ovidio Guzman has worked with his father's cartel since he was a teenager. He is wanted in the United States, which has offered $5 million for his capture. As NPR's Eyder Peralta reports, his arrest has unleashed major violence. And we should warn you in advance of the sound of gunfire throughout this story.
EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: The operation began before the sun came up. Mexican security forces surrounded a group of heavily armed members of the Sinaloa cartel. A video shared on social media shows a helicopter trading heavy gunfire with armed men on the ground.
(SOUNDBITE OF HELICOPTER HUMMING)
PERALTA: According to the military, Ovidio Guzman was captured amid this exchange.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
LUIS CRESENCIO SANDOVAL GONZALEZ: (Speaking Spanish).
PERALTA: Defense Secretary Luis Cresencio Sandoval Gonzalez hailed the arrest as a bruising hit on the power structure of the Sinaloa cartel. But as he spoke, Sinaloa state burned. Videos on social media showed the narcos blockading roads and armed men moving through the airport. One video shows narcos shooting at a military plane.
(SOUNDBITE OF GUNSHOTS FIRING)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Speaking Spanish).
PERALTA: Guzman was flown to the capital in Sinaloa. The regional airports were closed, and the authorities asked people to stay home. Mexican security forces actually briefly detained Ovidio Guzman in 2019. But back then, the Sinaloa cartel unleashed even greater violence, and within hours, the government let Guzman go. Carlos Perez Ricart, a professor at the Center for Economic Research and Training, says that was a huge embarrassment for the government.
CARLOS A PEREZ RICART: (Speaking Spanish).
PERALTA: "The government's weakness was on display. The capture of Guzmán is redemption," he says. But it might say more about how the Sinaloa cartel has changed.
PEREZ RICART: (Speaking Spanish).
PERALTA: Today, the cartel is fighting on multiple fronts, and it may not be able to muster the same kind of violence to make the government capitulate. Still, it's a huge win for Mexico ahead of a visit by President Biden next week. Guzman's father, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, was extradited to the U.S., where he is serving a life sentence. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Mexico City.
(SOUNDBITE OF BADBADNOTGOOD AND GHOSTFACE KILLAH SONG, "GUNSHOWERS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.