Mexican troops have captured the son of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the country's most-wanted drug lord and the leader of the dreaded Sinaloa drug cartel, in a raid carried out in the central Jalisco state, the military said on Thursday.
According to the military, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar was arrested along with an accomplice named Kevin Beltran Rios in the city of Zapopan. Both are accused of being members of the Sinaloa cartel. They were later transferred to Mexico City, and paraded in front of the media.
At the press conference held in Mexico City, Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara said Jesus Guzman, also known as "El Gordo" or "The Fat One," was a growing force in the Sinaloa cartel and controlled most of the cartel's "illegal drug trade between Mexico and the United States."
Incidentally, the U.S. state of Illinois had indicted Jesus Guzman on drug trafficking charges in 2009. But it is not yet clear whether Mexico will extradite him the U.S. to stand trial on those charges.
Earlier in the month, the U.S. Treasury Department had imposed financial sanctions on Jesus Guzman and his mother, Maria Alejandrina Salazar. Also, the Department had hit two other sons of Joaquin Guzman identified as Ivan and Ovidio with similar sanctions last month, thereby preventing U.S. citizens from doing business with them.
The Sinaloa cartel, based in Mexico's Pacific coast, is currently one of the most powerful organized criminal gangs in the Americas. Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman has been on the run since he escaped from a Mexican prison ten years ago.
Last year, the Forbes magazine had included Joaquin Guzman in its list of the world's richest men, reportedly worth more than $1 billion. He is believed to be hiding in the mountains in the northern state of Durango. The United States has declared a $5-million reward for information leading to his capture.
The Sinaloa cartel is presently engaged in a fierce turf battle with rival cartels for the control of lucrative smuggling routes to the United States. Mexico is currently struggling to contain the violence unleashed by the rival drug cartels, mainly in the northern states.
The Mexican government says that more than 45,000 people have died in drug-related violence in the country since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug gangs after taking office in December 2006.
Besides fighting drug cartels, Calderon has deployed thousands of troops across the country to check drug-related violence and launched a massive anti-corruption drive named 'Operation Clean-up' to identify and punish public servants having links with drug cartels.
by RTT Staff Writer
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