After their holiday, David Téllez and his family headed to Culiacan’s airport before sunrise to fly back to Mexico. An abandoned truck blocked their path shortly after they began to leave.
Téllez looked on social media and saw that the state capital of Sinaloa, which is a stronghold for a drug cartel, was surrounded by barricades and gunfire.
The military caught Ovidio Guzmán, the son of former Sinaloa cartel chief Joaquín “El Chapo,” in a pre-dawn raid north of the city on Thursday, but it took hours for Mexico’s defense minister to acknowledge it.
Right away, the people of Culiacan were thrown into a day of fear unlike any they had felt since October 2019, when the government tried to catch the young Guzmán.
Famous Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was found guilty on all counts.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has been angry about how hard his predecessors tried to catch drug lords.
However, his government caught a well-known drug cartel leader just days before U.S. President Joe Biden visited, and communities were paying the price.
Residents of Culiacan recorded videos of gunmen in pickup trucks and SUVs driving through downtown boulevards. At least one convoy included a flatbed truck with a rifle, like the one that created turmoil in 2019.
Sinaloa’s other cities were also barred.
Rev. Esteban Robles, Culiacan’s Roman Catholic diocesan spokesperson, said “there is an atmosphere of anxiety, tension” and that those who could were staying home.
“Many roadways are still blocked by burned automobiles,” Robles added.
The Culiacan municipal authorities warned: “Don’t go! “The protection of Culiacan residents is paramount.” Many private enterprises, schools, and municipal governments shuttered.
The Mexican authorities published this Oct. 17 frame capture of Ovidio Guzman Lopez’s detention in Culiacan. After Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s gunmen attacked Culiacan, Mexican authorities released him.
Oscar Loza, a human rights activist in Culiacan, described the atmosphere as tense, with store looting. People reported convoys of gunmen coming toward a military installation on the south side of the city, where Loza lives, but Loza claimed his neighborhood was eerily silent. He responded, “No traffic.”
Téllez ultimately reached the airport after avoiding many more abandoned automobiles obstructing roadways.
After rapidly checking in, an airport restaurant employee advised the family to take cover in a restroom. To stop Guzmán’s flight, gunmen arrived at the airport.
At least since 2019, Juan Carlos Ayala, a Culiacan resident and Sinaloa University professor, has stated that Ovidio Guzmán was a clear target.
“Ovidio’s fate was set. Furthermore, he was the most powerful fentanyl trafficker and Chapos leader. “”People have differing views, but I think the majority is with them,” Ayala said of the locals’ reactions to the arrest.
The cartel’s money and the knowledge that it will remain after federal troops leave may be reasons for that. Despite its flaws, the cartel has maintained stability.
Ovidio Guzmán, one of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sons, was in custody at the prosecutor’s building in Mexico City on Thursday, January 5, 2023.
In 2018, the US indicted Guzmán for drug trafficking. Both governments said he and longtime cartel boss Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada were taking on a larger role in their father’s business.
In 2019, the US requested Guzmán’s arrest for extradition, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard. He said that request would need to be updated and processed, but Guzmán first faces an open case in Mexico.
Ismael Bojorquez, who runs Riodoce, a local news site about drug trafficking, said that the violent reaction was caused by the president’s less harsh approach to organized crime.
He said, “They (cartels) have taken advantage of these four years to organize themselves, arm themselves, strengthen their structures, and their finances.” “I think there are more weapons now. “Society is paying for the federal government’s strategy by strengthening all of organized crime’s armies, not just the Chapitos.”
Guzmán was taken to Mexico City by a military flight from Culiacan. As two large military planes landed with troops, three or four military helicopters landed, and marines and soldiers began deploying along the runway, Téllez’s commercial flight waited to take off.
Téllez heard gunshots as the plane took off. He said passengers fell to the floor after 15 seconds of a louder, closer sound. A flight attendant informed him of the gunfire. The plane quickly returned to the terminal without injury.
Samuel González, who formed Mexico’s special prosecutor for organized crime in the 1990s, called Guzmán’s capture a “gift” before Biden’s arrival. “The Mexican government is working to have a calm visit,” he said.
He described the bullets that hit the commercial airplane as “without a doubt an act of international terrorism” and indicated it may lead to serious conversations between the two countries about the repercussions.
Téllez stayed till nightfall. The authorities closed the airport and the Los Mochis and Mazatlan airports for security. Téllez said, “If they captured him, it was worth it.”