The arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, the son of former Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, is an important step for the Mexican government, experts say, but it will likely have little effect on the flow of illegal drugs, particularly fentanyl, across the border.
“You’re not going to see a big difference or a reduction in the amount of fentanyl coming to the United States. But having said all of that, it is still a very good arrest because there is no doubt that Ovidio was heavily involved in the day-to-day activities of the Sinaloa Cartel,” said former El Paso U.S. Marshal Robert Almonte.
The next step is important, Almonte said, adding it is simply not enough to arrest Guzmán, known as “El Ratón,” or other cartel leaders. Mexican authorities need to extradite him to the U.S. to demonstrate that the Mexican government is serious about ending cartel control in Mexico and the world.
The clash surrounding Guzmán’s arrest Jan. 5 in Culiacán resulted in nearly 30 deaths of Mexican officers and Sinaloa Cartel members.
Gunmen rampaged in Culiacán after Guzman was taken away, blocking roads and burning vehicles.
The arrest came on the eve of President Joe Biden’s visit to Mexico for the North American leaders’ summit, leading some to label Guzmán’s capture a political display.
Matt Donahue, retired chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s foreign operations, called the arrest a “political play or stunt.”
“We knew where he was” for years, said Donahue, who has worked in Mexico supervising agents targeting the Sinaloa Cartel and other drug smuggling powerhouses. “But they wouldn’t go get him until it was politically expedient.”
The arrest of Rafael Caro Quintero in July 2022 by Mexican authorities came days after Biden met in Washington with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. A former cartel leader, Quintero was wanted in the killing of a DEA agent in 1985.