Mexican officials have confirmed that Jesus Alfredo Guzman, a son of notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Salazar, was among those kidnapped from gourmet restaurant La Leche in Puerto Vallarta, Jalsico, on Monday.
Authorities earlier presumed the kidnappers had taken El Chapo’s other son, Ivan Archivaldo Guzman, along with 10-12 other Sinaloa cartel members. Investigators took fingerprints from the scene, viewed surveillance videos and checked identifications related to five luxury vehicles left behind by the victims.
The officials identified Jesus Guzman, who took over the business after his father’s incarceration, through the undisclosed items found in his cars.
He is a wanted man in the United States.
The police believe the mass abduction is related to the ongoing battle between the Sinaloa cartel and the dominant criminal organization, the Jalisco Cartel-New Generation (CJNG). If this turns out to be true, a massive drug war might be on the horizon.
Jalisco state Attorney General Eduardo Almaguer told a news conference that the gunmen arrived at the restaurant in two SUVs and kidnapped the victims, who had been vacationing in the resort city for a week. The police found five vehicles abandoned at the scene — one had Jalisco license plates but a false registration.
“It's a bit surprising that in effect they were drug traffickers but didn't have any security,” said Alejandro Hope, a Mexico City-based security analyst.
Experts believe the latest string of attacks against Guzman's family suggests El Chapo, who purportedly ran affairs from prison until his second escape in 2015, has lost control of his Sinaloa cartel. He was reportedly grooming his son to take reins of their family business, but the recent abduction has seemingly weakened the cartel’s position.
In 2001, the head of the Sinaloa cartel escaped prison by bribing his way out of jail and using his henchmen to dig up an extensive tunnel below his cell. Law enforcement agencies recaptured him in 2014 after a lengthy manhunt.
In 2015, he broke out again after members of his cartel dug an elaborate, mile-long tunnel that came up under his cell shower block.
More than 100,000 people were murdered in Mexico between 2007 and 2012. The government acknowledges that as many as 70,000 of these murders were drug-related. While there are no confirmed statistics available, the situation in the Central American country has worsened over the past couple of years.