Will El Chapo’s Son’s Arrest Stop Drugs From Being Exported To The US?

Despite being a significant move for the Mexican authorities, the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, the son of former Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, is expected to have little impact on the flow of illegal substances, mainly fentanyl, across the border.

“The amount of fentanyl entering the United States won’t significantly change or decline. According to former El Paso U.S. Marshal Robert Almonte, it is still an outstanding arrest because Ovidio was undoubtedly intimately involved in the Sinaloa Cartel’s daily operations.

Almonte emphasized the significance of the following action, saying that merely apprehending “El Ratón” Guzmán or other cartel leaders is insufficient. To show that the Mexican government is committed to ending cartel dominance in Mexico and the rest of the world, they must immediately extradite him to the United States.

Nearly 30 people were killed during the altercation that followed Guzmán’s arrest on January 5 in Culiacán, on the sides of the Sinaloa Cartel and the Mexican government.

After Guzman was carried away, shooters went on the rampage in Culiacan, burning cars and blocking roadways. The fact that this occurred just before President Joe Biden‘s trip to Mexico for the summit of North American leaders has led some to portray Guzman’s arrest as a political show.

The former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s overseas operations, Matt Donahue, described the arrest as a “political act or stunt.”

For years, “we knew where he was,” claimed Donahue, who had previously served in Mexico as a supervisor of agents pursuing the Sinaloa Cartel and other major drug trafficking organizations. But they would wait till it was politically advantageous to go after him.

Days after Biden visited Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Washington, the Mexican government detained Rafael Caro Quintero in July 2022. Quintero, a former cartel boss, was sought after for the 1985 murder of an American DEA agent.

Guzmán and his siblings, nicknamed “Los Chapitos,” spearheaded the drive in Sinaloa years ago toward synthetic substances like meth and fentanyl, then fentanyl pills, which increased the death toll in the United States, according to Donahue.

The Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, or CJNG, is Sinaloa’s primary opponent. According to the DEA’s National Drug Threat Assessment reports, these two giant cartels are to blame for most illegal substances discovered in the United States.

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Only if Guzmán is extradited and decides to help U.S. authorities, according to Donahue, would his arrest affect the flow of drugs into the United States.

According to Donahue, the Sinaloa Cartel and corruption in that region might genuinely suffer from the amount of information he could divulge.

He could verify the quantity of fentanyl they produce, where they produce it, how they make it, where they obtain the precursor chemicals, where their targets are in the United States, and their networks.

However, a Mexican federal judge on Monday blocked Guzmán’s extradition and mandated that he remain in custody for 60 days.

Alberto Dáz Mendieta, Guzmán’s attorney, said Radio Formula, a Mexican radio news program, states that the United States has 60 days to request his client’s extradition formally.

The U.S. has had an arrest warrant out for Guzmán since 2019, according to the foreign minister of Mexico, Marcelo Ebrard. Still, extradition will not happen right away because “it has to run its course in Mexico first.”

He won’t be deported, according to Donahue.

The Department of Justice charged Guzman and his brother Joaquin in 2019 with conspiring to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana for importation into the United States.

Ovidio Guzmán is not the main figurehead of “Los Chapitos,” but after a wave of violence surrounding his initial arrest in 2019, his face came to represent this group.

He was also apprehended at that time by Mexican forces in Culiacán, but the outcome was different.

Cartel forces began targeting people, torching cars and shops as they surrounded the soldiers. This prompted President López Obrador to free Guzmán to end the killing.

At that moment, the president replied, “You cannot fight fire with fire.” His “hugs, not bullets” approach to dealing with cartel-related violence has now come under heavy fire.

According to Donahue, this encourages cartels to escalate their violence in the future to evade more significant arrests or extraditions.

López Obrador refuted allegations that the Biden visit had anything to do with Guzman’s most recent arrest on Monday, calling such statements “disrespectful” to those who sacrificed their lives in the operation.

“I have no confidence that he will remain in detention without the ability to continue operations,” former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration official Derek Maltz said. “It was a good accomplishment that they went out and captured him.”

The El Paso Division of the DEA said that in 2022, more than 50.6 million bogus prescription pills laced with fentanyl and more than 10,000 pounds of fentanyl powder were seized.

“The El Paso Division, including New Mexico and West Texas, seized 2,886,783 of those tablets and 261.5 pounds. According to the DEA Laboratory’s estimation, the El Paso seizures comprise more than 9.8 million fentanyl dosages that could be fatal.

Will El Chapo's Son's Arrest Stop Drugs From Being Exported To The US?
Will El Chapo’s Son’s Arrest Stop Drugs From Being Exported To The U.S.?

According to the DEA, the most dangerous drug threat to the United States is fentanyl. This artificial opioid is 50 times more potent than heroin and addictive. The tiny quantity of fentanyl that fits on the tip of a pencil, 2 milligrams, is regarded as a potentially fatal dose.

Maltz asserted that arresting cartel bosses wouldn’t stop fentanyl from entering the United States. It’s more important to “take down the precursor chemicals coming from China, capture and extradite these significant targets to America, and destroy those labs in Mexico.”

Fred Alvarez, a security analyst in Mexico, concurred, “I believe there are a lot more things needed. A group like the Pacific (Sinaloa) Cartel’s financial power structure should be destroyed, therefore strike them where it counts.”

Drug Cartels In Mexico Are Waiting Anxiously For Their Next Move

Regarding the unrest that erupted in Culiacán during the Guzmán operation, President López Obrador declared on Friday, “There is a quiet in these last hours.” Hours after the arrest, about 4,500 Mexican soldiers were stationed in Culiacan.

However, despite the military’s presence and Guzmán’s imprisonment in Altiplano, a maximum security facility west of Mexico City (the same facility from which his father, El Chapo, escaped in 2015), there is still a sense of unease about the drug cartels’ potential next move in the various Mexican states.

According to Donahue, the arrest would probably result in more murders within the Sinaloa Cartel, escalating the deadly internal power battles that have already been going on since El Chapo was found guilty and imprisoned in the United States 2019.

The Sinaloa Cartel has more factions besides “Los Chapitos.” Important opposing figures continue to hold some of the company’s power even if the Mexican authorities manage to apprehend other members of that group.

“Many people overlook this other player, a key figure in the Sinaloa Cartel. The major foe of “Los Chapitos,” “El Mayo Zambada,” is still present and actively participating in Sinaloa Cartel activities, according to Almonte, a former El Paso U.S. Marshal.

The government must tackle each of these individuals; they must act much more forcefully. They cannot simply stand by and let the cartels govern Mexico. As never before, they must pursue these cartels, according to former DEA official Maltz. Experts concur that the rival CJNG cartel is continuously keeping watch and waiting to try to exploit any slip-ups.

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