The 17 of October of 2019, Mexico was shocked by an operation carried out in the city of Culiacán to arrest Ovidio Guzmán Loera López, son of ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán and heir to the Sinaloa Cartel, which generated an outbreak of violence of such magnitude that it forced President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to order his release.
He has been one of the most serious scandals and political crises of his Government.
Three years later, the aftermath of a day of terror , which was baptized as the ‘Culiacanazo’, continue to impact a country where drug violence does not stop. That day, there were eight deaths, dozens of injuries, street blockades, clashes, attacks on military headquarters and prisoners escaped. But still today there are no detainees.
What there are are recent leaks that reveal that the Attorney General’s Office suspects that, during the operation, the military protected the son of ‘Chapo’ , the Mexican capo who turned the Sinaloa Cartel into one of the largest transnational organized crime companies.
There is also evidence that the capture and extradition of ‘Chapo’ to the US. , where he is serving a life sentence, did not diminish the lucrative business that he inherited from his children. So much so that the State Department maintains current rewards of five million dollars for each of the the ‘chapitos: Ovidio, Iván Archivaldo, Jesús Alfredo and Joaquín.
In response, López Obrador assured that one of the priorities of his government was to stop these and other capos. When they reminded him that he had freed Ovidio, he clarified that he did it only to prevent a massacre in Sinaloa.
“If we did right or wrong, history will tell. I was the one who made the decision”, affirmed the president.
Criticism for the release increased months later, when he greeted the mother of ‘Chapo’ during an official tour in Sinaloa. The opposition accused him of favoring the Sinaloa Cartel. But in the long run the questions did not make a dent. Three years later, his popularity is still around 17 %.
Last month, the group of ‘hacktivists’ Guacamaya leaked millions of emails from the Ministry of Defense National (Sedena) of Mexico. One of the most important revelations has to do with the details of the ‘Culiacanazo’ that until now were unknown.
According to the leaked documents, the FGR is investigating elements of the Sedena suspected of having protected to the son of ‘Chapo’ on the day of the operation.
This is indicated by an email dated the past 11 February 2022, in which The Specialized Unit for the Investigation of Terrorism, Stockpiling and Trafficking of Arms (UEITA) requests information on these events from the Brigadier General of Military Justice, Miguel Carrasco Hernández.
“I inform you that this prosecutor’s office has lines of investigation that could reveal the possible participation of elements of his corporation in the events that occurred on Thursday 15 October 2019 that was disclosed in the media and open sources where the alleged arrest by elements of Sedena and the National Guard, of Ovidio Guzmán López, in the City of Culiacán, Sinaloa, where clashes with members of organized crime and the Armed Forces arose, “he says.
Requests for reports began in May of 2021, but there was no response. The clue to involve soldiers is the presence of a military truck that, in the midst of the tension in Sinaloa, the drug traffickers would have used.
In addition, there are reports of the presence of by at least 38 members of a special group of the Army in the private neighborhood where the son of ‘Chapo was before being arrested. That surveillance, which the authorities believe was actually a protection, was not authorized.
The leak raises questions about what happened that day, until López Obrador finally ordered the release of to Ovidio Guzmán to avoid a massacre.
Despite the capture of ‘Chapo’, the Cartel of Sinaloa continues to be the most important criminal organization in Mexico, the one with the greatest presence in the international traffic of illicit substances.
For this reason, at the end of last year the US Department of State The US announced a five million dollar reward for each of the kingpin’s sons.
“The four are high-ranking members of the Sinaloa Cartel and each is subject to a federal accusation for their participation in illicit drug trafficking,” said the Government of the country that consumes the most drugs in the world, and that a large part arrive through the border with Mexico.
In the case of designer drugs, for example, the State Department estimates that the cartel operates at least 15 narco-laboratories in Sinaloa, where they produce monthly between 1 and 2.200 kilos of methamphetamine that are later taken to their territory.
The announcement allowed López Obrador to be questioned about the ‘Culiacanazo’ and, for the first time, to explain in greater detail why he decided to release Ovidio Guzmán.
“It was a special circumstance, an operation that was not executed well , at three in the afternoon with very few personnel, without supporting those who were going to arrest him. There was a very strong reaction from crime to detain civilians, soldiers, to attack, there are attacks on housing units of the Armed Forces, they entrenched themselves with high-caliber weapons,” he said.
He insisted, above all, that the arrest of the drug lord would have generated confrontations and the loss of human lives.”It was decided to stop the operation, we did not want more people to lose their lives, there could be more than 200 dead,” he said.
However, he assured that the capture of the leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel continues to be a priority for his Government and that, if they are found in Mexico, the arrest corresponds to the Mexican authorities.
“No foreign force is allowed to act in this matter, or in any other, in our territory, we have to do our job according to the investigations that are carried out”, he assured.
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