Sinaloa Cartel Flaunts Its Might In Mexico Amid US Hunt

The Sinaloa cartel has made a new show of force in Mexico, the same week that the United States announced a series of rewards for the capture of Joaquín’s relatives El Chapo Guzman. Aureliano Guzmán, nephew of the drug trafficker, was caught this week while he started a shooting inside a bar last weekend. Local authorities confirmed that they intercepted the car they linked to the fight that night, but admitted that they let it go because the criminals outnumbered the police officers.

The latest scandal leaked to the press just days before Washington offered $ 5 million for the capture of several of Guzmán’s relatives. A month earlier, the same reward was announced, but by Aureliano Guzmán, the brother of the historic leader of the cartel and the father of whom the shooting began in Culiacán, the capital of the Mexican state of Sinaloa. The images show as Aureliano Jr., alias Bald, shoots his weapon towards the ceiling, in the middle of a crowd that disperses in the Casanova bar, in the heart of the city.

El Chapo’s nephew also cut a cartridge and moments later, one of his escorts aimed at the head of another man. The shooting began with an argument that eventually turned into a fight in which one person was injured, according to authorities. The events occurred around two in the morning last Saturday.

The Sinaloa Security Secretariat acknowledged that a vehicle that they have linked to El Pelón was intercepted by the Police twice that night. First, prior to the shooting, the drivers of that car pirouetted on a Culiacán street until a group of officers on a motorcycle arrived. When they were going to arrest them, several armed men got out of three cars that were escorting the first car, blocked the way, rebuked the police and prevented the arrest.

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While they waited for reinforcements to arrive, the agents decided to let them go to “avoid harm to innocent people” who circulated through the streets of Culiacán, Cristóbal Castañeda explained at a press conference. The policemen pressed a panic button to give the report to other colleagues and began a chase. Castañeda criticized that municipal police from Culiacán were in the area during the attempted arrest, but did not support state elements.

In a second moment, after the shooting, the vehicle where those who participated in the fight were traveling was stopped in front of the Casanova bar by municipal agents. One of the policemen exchanged words with the driver and pointed a gun at him, but seconds later the car started and he fled the scene. Castañeda launched several questions to the press about some coordination problems that have occurred between the state and municipal security forces, and that have been evidenced in this case. “It is not about distributing blame,” he added.

A poster with the reward requested by the United States for Ovidio Guzmán.
A poster with the reward requested by the United States for Ovidio Guzmán.

The US State Department announced Wednesday that it was after four sons of El Chapo: Ovidio Guzmán López, alias Mouse; Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, aliases Chapito; Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, and Joaquín Guzmán López. Ovidio Guzmán was at the center of a failed operation in Culiacán to capture him in October 2019. El Ratón was in the custody of the authorities, but was released after a series of blockades and intimidation by the Sinaloa cartel. The scandal, which went down in history as the Culiacanazo, marred the first months of the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador and unleashed doubts about his security policy. “If we did well or if we did wrong, history will tell,” said the president this week. “I made the decision to stop the operation,” he added in one of his daily lectures.

After the message from the White House, López Obrador assured that the detention of El Chapo’s children is a priority for his government, but said that the arrest corresponds to Mexico. “If they are in national territory, it is up to our authority to stop them, no foreign force is allowed to act in this matter or in any other,” said the president, who sometimes has adopted a nationalist discourse and other times has had to give in to the asymmetries of the relationship with the United States.

The Sinaloa cartel has topped America’s list of top targets for decades. El Chapo was sentenced to life in prison in 2019, but the war on drugs is not over for Washington. At the end of November, Emma Coronel, Guzmán’s wife, was sentenced to three years in prison for the crimes of drug trafficking and money laundering. The next chapter will be to bring the kingpin’s sons to justice, although it remains to be seen first if they can be captured in Mexico. The events of the past weekend paint a complicated picture.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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