After officials in Mexico claimed to have arrested a son of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the latest member of the notorious drug lord’s family to be targeted in recent years, they later recanted in an embarrassing display of ineptitude.
On June 22, news wires and social media were abuzz that the son of Joaquin Guzman, Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, was arrested in Zapopan, a small municipality outside of Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco. Another man, Kevin Beltran Rios, was arrested with the alleged kin of the world's most powerful drug trafficker. Both are also believed to be members of Chapo's Sinaloa Cartel.
However, 24 hours later, authorities corrected themselves, saying the person arrested was Felix Beltran Leon, an operative in the cell that Guzman Salazar allegedly manages. US authorities confirmed the error.
The operation was directed by the Mexican Marines, who acted on information from both Mexican and American intelligence. Jose Luis Vergara, spokesman for the Mexican Navy, said that Guzman Salazar, aka “El Gordo,” is a key figure in his father’s organization. Vergara told reporters that El Gordo is in charge of much of his father’s real estate properties as well as most of the cartel’s drug trade between Mexico and the US.
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The misidentification of this operative is another embarrassing mishap in the search for Chapo. Despite some close calls, Chapo has managed to evade authorities since his escape from a high security prison in 2001. Unable to capture the drug lord himself, some analysts believe that Mexican and American authorities have instead started targeting members of Guzman’s family who are actively involved in his cartel.
Several family members, including Chapo’s son Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar and second wife Griselda Lopez Perez have been arrested by authorities and/or blacklisted by the US Treasury department, preventing American citizens from doing business with them.
Guzman Salazar is the son of Chapo’s first wife, Maria Alejandrina Salazar Hernandez. The two were blacklisted by the US Treasury in early June in an effort to crack down on the Guzman family’s money laundering activities in the US. Chapo’s nephew, Obied Cano Zepeda, was killed Sunday in an attack likely carried out by the Sinaloa Cartel’s rivals, the Zetas.