Mexico’s Pacific state of Jalisco, home to some of the country’s major tourist resorts, is bracing itself for a storm of violence following the kidnapping of the son of drug kingpin Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán Loera on Monday by a rival drugs cartel, Jalisco Nueva Generación.
The head of Jalisco’s office of public prosecutions, Eduardo Almaguer, said that a group of seven armed men entered a restaurant in the upscale resort of Puerto Vallarta in the early hours of Monday morning shortly after it closed. They approached a table where 16 people were dining, and forced six of them, all men, to head outside to waiting vehicles.
A few hours later, the public prosecutor’s office confirmed that among the six men was Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, aged 29, the son of El Chapo, head of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel and until January the most wanted drug trafficker in the world. He is now in prison awaiting extradition to the United States.
The Sinaloa Cartel is currently rebuilding itself following El Chapo’s arrest and the ensuing power vacuum created in the organization
On Tuesday afternoon, Almaguer gave a press conference, naming three other men taken with Guzmán: Juan Daniel Calva Tapia, Josias Nahualli Rábago Borbolla and Víctor Galván Ureña.
Almaguer added that the authorities attributed the kidnapping to the Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel, considered Mexico’s most dangerous, and currently locked in a violent turf war with Guzmán’s Sinaloa cartel.
The US government says that not only Guzman’s son, but also his wife María Alejandrina Salazar and brother Iván Archivaldo, are involved in the running of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Javier Valdez, a journalist who writes about Mexico’s drug cartels for weekly news magazine Río Doce, predicts a violent response from the Sinaloa cartel to the kidnapping of Guzmán’s son.
“It’s confusing, because the cartels have worked together in the past, but the organizations function on a regional, day-to-day basis, so I think that had this been a mistake, they would have been released by now, or simply that it wouldn’t have happened,” Valdez told EL PAÍS.
Valdez believes the Sinaloa Cartel is currently rebuilding itself following El Chapo’s arrest and the ensuing power vacuum created in the organization. “Very often these kinds of power vacuums lead to violence: rather than negotiate or build bridges, which was El Chapo’s main concern, instead we are seeing internal collapse,” he added.
The journalist says that the Nueva Generación de Jalisco has no presence in Sinaloa and would not be seeking to establish itself there. But El Chapo’s organization is just one of five or six groups that each control a particular area, and that have their own operating partners, which explains the fight for Jalisco. “This could lead to the violence extending to other parts of the country where there was no conflict before,” he warned.
The Jalisco public prosecutor’s office said that the search for the kidnap victims continues, but that for the moment it had no leads.
English version by Nick Lyne.