A group of men that included a son of El Chapo Guzmán were abducted at gunpoint from an upscale restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in what appears to be a high-level attack in the war between two of the country's most powerful drug cartels.
According to the Attorney General's Office in the state of Jalisco, where Puerto Vallarta is located, six men were kidnapped on the evening of August 15 from a local gourmet restaurant called La Leche. However, the exact number of victims remains unclear; the same office previously said between 10 and 12 had been kidnapped and some local media outlets were reporting 16 victims.
Police sources told InSight Crime that authorities are actively investigating leads that the kidnapping is related to the ongoing battle between the powerful Sinaloa Cartel and the dominant criminal organization in that area, the Jalisco Cartel - New Generation (CJNG).
Initial reports suggest that CJNG operatives kidnapped high-ranking members of the Sinaloa Cartel while they were celebrating a night out. When police arrived at the scene of the crime, they reportedly found abandoned luxury vehicles containing expensive liquor and other accessories.
Jalisco Attorney General Eduardo Almaguer confirmed that Alfredo Guzmán, the son of jailed Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, was among the victims of the abduction. Almaguer had earlier said it was another son, Iván Archivaldo Guzmán, that was taken.
According to Almaguer, the relatives of the victims have not made official reports that the men are missing, which has complicated efforts to determine their identities.
In addition to local authorities, the Mexican Army, Navy and Federal Police are all reportedly participating in the search for the missing men. As of this writing, their fate remains unclear.
InSight Crime Analysis
The attack at La Leche restaurant appears to be the latest and perhaps the most dramatic flare-up in a simmering war between CJNG and the Sinaloa Cartel. Indications of conflict between the two groups began to surface last year, following reports of disputes over important drug trafficking routes.
In February, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that CJNG appeared to have launched an offensive against the Sinaloa Cartel to seize control of Tijuana, a key drug trafficking corridor on the US border. In March, local media reported on an ongoing conflict between the two groups in the state of Colima, home to the strategically important port of Manzanillo.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Kidnapping
Although the conflict between CJNG and the Sinaloa Cartel pre-dates El Chapo's January 2016 arrest, it is possible that the kingpin's capture has emboldened his rivals to attempt to move in on territory under his organization's control. For example, a group of gunmen reportedly affiliated with another of the Sinaloa Cartel's rivals, the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), mounted an attack in June in El Chapo's hometown that saw his mother's home ransacked and several bystanders killed.