Ovidio Guzmán’s recapture sparks chaos in Sinaloa: schools and airports closed amid violence

Violence erupts in the Mexican state of Sinaloa on January 5th, with reports of arson, narco-blockades, shootings, and car theft. Local authorities have asked citizens to stay in their homes and various streets and institutions have been closed. The incidents are believed to be related to the recapture of Ovidio Guzmán, a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.
  1. There was a surge in violence in the Mexican state of Sinaloa on January 5th, with reports of arson, narco-blockades, shootings, and car theft.
  2. Local authorities have asked citizens to stay in their homes due to the imminent risk, and various streets and educational and government institutions have been closed.
  3. The violence is believed to be related to the recapture of Ovidio Guzmán, a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, wanted for drug trafficking and other crimes.

The state of Sinaloa dawned with a violent day on January 5, with reports of vehicles being set on fire, narco-blockades, shootings, and theft of cars in various parts of Culiacán due to the recapture of Ovidio Guzmán. Due to these disturbances, local authorities have requested citizens to take shelter in their homes due to the imminent risk.

Local media reported an armed confrontation in the Jesús María syndicate, with reports of burning cargo vehicles. The state Public Security Secretary, Cristóbal Castañeda, confirmed these facts through his social networks.

“Vehicles are being stripped, and blockades occur at different points in the city (…). We are acting accordingly,” said the official without further details on the matter. Meanwhile, the governor of Sinaloa, Rubén Rocha Moya, urged citizens to “remain calm” and not to leave their homes.

According to preliminary reports, the streets affected by the road blockades are Constitución, Calzada Heroico Colegio Militar, the north exit of Espacios Barcelona, and Lola Beltrán and Arjona boulevards, near the Universidad de Occidente.

In light of the Sinaloa Cartel‘s violent acts, the Sinaloa Ministry of Public Education and Culture (SEPyC) decided to suspend all teaching and administrative activities in the municipality of Culiacán for this January 5. The above safeguards the integrity of the student community. The same instructions were given by the Municipal City Hall and the State Government to its workers after they also suspended work.

The International Airports of Culiacán and Mazatlán indicated that they will remain closed until 22:00 hours to protect the safety of passengers. Moments before, they had indicated that no flights had been canceled, so they asked their clients to check the status of their flights with their respective airlines in case they had a trip scheduled for this Thursday. “Avoid traveling in public areas,” they recommended.

It had been reported on social networks that gunshots had been fired in an attempted riot at the Culiacán prison. However, the state Public Security Secretariat of Mexico reported that “there have been no evasions or disturbances inside the prison, only trash burning.” For the moment, the prison is being guarded by the National Defense Secretariat (Sedena) and the Mexican National Guard. At the same time, land and air operation are being maintained to recover security in the municipality.

For his part, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador commented in his press conference that an operation was carried out in Culiacán in the early hours of the morning but omitted to give more information. “Later, we will report on that. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” said the president. However, he said that the Mexican Secretary of Public Security and Citizen Protection (SSPC), Rosa Icela Rodríguez, would announce what happened before noon.

In videos shared on social networks, it is possible to observe the burned vehicles that were used to block the streets of Culiacán, although the number of affected units is unknown. One of them also shows a burst of gunfire that apparently came from an aircraft. The above reminded Internet users of the so-called “Culiacanazo” when Ovidio Guzmán (son of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán) was captured in October 2019 and later released.

Shortly before 10:00 a.m., the capture of Ovidio Guzmán, alias El Ratón, one of the leaders of “Los Chapitos”, a cell attached to the Sinaloa Cartel, transpired. U.S. authorities also want the 32-year-old drug lord for his alleged involvement in drug trafficking to the neighboring country, for which they were offering up to 5 million dollars in exchange for information leading to his whereabouts or arrest.

These events occurred four days before the President of the United States, Joe Biden, will hold a meeting with López Obrador in Mexico on the occasion of the North American Leaders Summit, in which the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, will also participate.

For this reason, the US embassy in Mexico asked US citizens not to travel to Sinaloa due to the shootings in Culiacán that spread to Los Mochis and Guasave.