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Capture of Ovidio: a message to the Sinaloa Cartel

Capture of Ovidio: a message to the Sinaloa Cartel
Ovidio Guzmán search form.

After last January 5, through an operation in the city of Culiacán, Sinaloa, the capture of Ovidio Guzmán López, one of the most wanted drug traffickers by Mexico and the United States, son of Joaquín Guzmán Loera "El Chapo" was achieved. , experts describe the arrest as a clear message to the Sinaloa Cartel.

“The Mexican government calculated well and it turned out in its favor without the help of the DEA and the US authorities. I think the authorities did not intend to cause too much violent damage, but to send a message to the Sinaloa cartel," said Ricardo Raphael, a Mexican writer, journalist and radio and television presenter, who in an interview with Peninsula 360 Press stressed that it is important to note that Ovidio He is not the most powerful member of the Sinaloa Cartel, but he is the most visible.

Ricardo Raphael, Mexican writer, journalist and radio and television presenter. Photo: ricardoraphael.com

Raphael believes that "although Ovidio was arrested, the bosses of the Mayo Zambada cartel continue to operate in Tijuana." 

However, "The Mexican government has learned that organized crime is better than disorganized crime."

This was explained to Peninsula 360 Press by Eduardo Guerrero, director of Lantia Intelligence, a consultancy specialized in violence and risk mitigation.

“There have been many protests in Culiacán against the Mexican government for failing to protect innocent families caught in the crossfire during detention operations. The cartel blocked roads, burned trailers and trucks, and even torched local businesses. I think these reactions will last for the next few weeks and slowly fade away. Since Ovidio is an isolated attack, the cartel will stabilize and the peak of violence should go down," he stressed.

Eduardo Guerrero, director of Lantia Intelligence, a consultancy specialized in violence and risk mitigation. Photo: Twitter Eduardo Guerrero

Ovidio Guzmán has not been the only isolated arrest in recent months, says Guerrero, 

Antonio Oseguera was arrested a few weeks ago as one of the key pieces of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, as well as Gerardo Treviño, alias "El Huevo", leader of the Northeast Cartel. This means that there have been three targeted attacks in the last month. It is in the government's interest to maintain a positive political appearance ahead of the presidential elections." 

Paradoxically, on Tuesday, January 17, a court in Brooklyn, New York, began monitoring the former Secretary of Public Security of Mexico, Genaro García Luna, an alleged member of the Sinaloa Cartel since 2001, and accused not only of corruption charges, but also of an even more serious crime.

During the 2006-2012 war on drugs declared by former President Felipe Calderón, García Luna possibly adopted a selective strategy of capturing and killing drug lords and their lieutenants, in order to weaken rival Sinaloa cartels. in exchange for millions of dollars. 

During his tenure, García Luna was in charge of the most important drug trafficking efforts in Mexico, which led to the enormous escalation of violence and homicides that the country has experienced since then. 

García Luna's secretariat received millions of dollars from the United States through the so-called Mérida Initiative, in the form of military aid, equipment, training, as well as intelligence. 

In this sense, Eduardo Guerrero believes that during this trial "there will be many surprises and unprecedented revelations. I believe that García Luna was associated not only with criminals, but with important businessmen and influential political figures in certain states. There will be many scandals after this trial." 

In turn, he explained that the Mexican government now has to choose whether to pursue a strategy of selective arrests to please the US, or a different type of strategy that would force them to target many drug traffickers from the same cartel at once, the only way to really weaken a criminal organization. 

However, pursuing the latter strategy has proven unsuccessful in the past, especially during the Calderón government, when there was a massive escalation of violence. The options for Mexico are not easy.

As Ricardo Rafael affirms, the Mexican government has to play a delicate game: on the one hand, to please the United States and to imply that the government and the armed forces are still capable of maintaining order and containing the cartels, and on the other send the message to criminal organizations that the Mexican government will not wage an all-out war against them, as this strategy may backfire.  

Adjustments and readjustments

Since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, Mexico has been embroiled in drug-related violence, most likely related to changes and accommodations among criminal organizations that have been filling the void left by the capture and trial of the drug lord. country's most notorious drug lord, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, currently incarcerated in a maximum-security prison in Colorado, and the rise of a ruthless criminal organization called the Cártel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG). 

The latest events in this violent saga involve an outbreak of violence and terror in the city of Culiacán the first week of the year, in response to the capture of Chapo's son, Ovidio Guzmán López. The arrest comes in the context of renewed efforts to improve the diplomatic relationship between Mexico and the United States.

Riots in the Sinaloa state capital included roadblocks, shootings and burning vehicles. On January 6, at least 29 people died, including 10 soldiers. 

Mexico currently has some of the most violent cities in the world, including Tijuana and Acapulco, with homicide rates above 100 per 100,000 inhabitants ? By way of comparison, Oakland currently has a homicide rate of 16 per 100,000? . 

It is not the first time that the city of Culiacán has been taken and occupied by organized crime, when trying to capture Ovidio Guzmán. The last time, in 2019, the drug trafficking organizations were so powerful that they forced the hand of the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador ?AMLO?, and it was the Mexican army itself that released the son of "Chapo" under the speech of "avoid more bloodshed in that city." 

On this occasion, a few days before AMLO's trilateral summit with US President Joseph Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, held on January 10, Ovidio Guzmán was not released, but rather energetically transferred to Mexico City, and expects him to be promptly extradited for trial in the United States. 

Mexico's cooperation with the United States in the fight against drug trafficking has been a complex process since the beginning of the AMLO administration, who has proposed a new policy of what he colloquially calls "hugs, not bullets." It is clear that the policy has not worked.

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Mateo Diaz-Magaloni
Mateo Diaz-Magaloni
I am 18 years old and I am in the last year of the institute of Palo Alto. In my studies I have written extensive research papers on issues related to social justice in Latin America and the United States. I have done internships for a consulting firm in Berlin, Germany, internships for German anthropologists at the University of Osnabruk on armed militias in Mexico, and internships for the lab at the Stanford Center on Chinas Economy and Institutions. I helped write an academic paper for this lab that is being reviewed for publication.


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