Ovidio Guzmán – the suspected drug lord who was captured in a dramatic police operation in the Mexican city of Culiacán yesterday – has been transferred to the same prison that his notorious father, El Chapo, escaped from in 2015.
Ten soldiers and 19 criminal suspects died in yesterday’s gun battle, and passengers on aircraft at Culiacán were forced to take cover as stray bullets damaged a number of planes.
After his capture, Guzmán was taken under heavy guard to Federal Social Readaptation Centre No. 1, commonly called Altiplano, as cartel members ran amok across Mexico.
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The 32-year-old – nicknamed “El Raton” or The Mouse – was flown to Mexico City International Airport (AICM) on a military plane, reporters were told by Defence Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval.
All the airlines flights to or from Culiacán, Los Mochis and Mazatlán were cancelled following the incident, while the Culiacán and Mazatlán International Airports were both closed.
When a military plane – thought to be carrying arrested Guzman – touched down at AICM it was also met with a hail of bullets and had to take off again, according to a witness.
This is the second time that Guzmán has been captured by the Mexican government. The first time, in 2019, he was released after a huge army of cartel gunmen threatened to overthrow President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government.
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Altiplano is seen as one of Mexico’s most secure jails but Guzmán’s father, El Chapo, managed to escape from the facility in July 2015, by rising a motorcycle along a sophisticated tunnel leading to a building site almost a mile from the prison.
El Chapo was recaptured four yeas later and convicted of 10 separate offences, including engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, drug trafficking and firearms charges. He was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years and ordered to pay an incredible $12.6 billion fine.
In a statement on Friday, Mexico’s Defence Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said that security at Altiplano prison has been increased since Guzmán was detained. He added that Guzmán’s arrest had the result of a complex operation which involved some 200 special forces operatives.
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The US State Department, which had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Guzmán’s arrest, says that Guzmán and his brother, Joaquín Guzmán-López, “inherited a great deal of the narcotics proceeds” after El Chapo’s incarceration.
They “began investing large amounts of the cash into the purchasing of marijuana in Mexico and cocaine in Colombia.
"They also began purchasing large amounts of ephedrine from Argentina and arranged for the smuggling of the product into Mexico as they began to experiment with methamphetamine production,” the statement said.
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