Last Updated on January 8, 2023
Operation Lightning, a military op. conducted by the some 3,500 troops of the Mexican Government’s military, marines, and special forces early Thursday morning resulted in the capture of drug lord Ovidio Guzmán-López, 32, in Jesús María, Culiacán, Mexico.
Ovidio, aka El Ratón, is one of El Chapo’s sons and a high-ranking commander in the Sinaloa-based Chapitos cartel, proved to be successful despite violent backlash from the drug cartel.
Mexico’s Defense Minister, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, announced that 29 people were killed in the fighting, a count which included 10 soldiers and 19 sicarios.
In 2019, the Southern District of New York (SDNY) released a one-count indictment against both Ovidio and his brother, Joaquin, which alleged that from 2018 to 2018, “they conspired to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana from Mexico and elsewhere for importation into the United States.”
However, Sandoval also claimed that soldiers were on patrol and by chance, ran into armed men in vehicles, a group which supposedly included Ovidio. This statement is one that few people believe, including veteran Mexico Drug War investigative journalist, Ioan Grillo.
“It seems impossible to believe this was an accident. They must have known Ovidio was there that day, and had prepared to get him out of Sinaloa so fast. And Sandoval said the military mobilized 3,500 troops in response which surely needed planning,” Grillo stated.
According to Grillo, a source within the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) informed him that that the agency had a high-ranking informant within the Chapitos organization.
“As always…there is a lot of smoke and mirrors in the Mexican drug war. It is unclear whether [Mexican President] AMLO actually knew about the operation beforehand,” Grillo said.
On the morning of the arrest on Thursday, AMLO spoke to the press but did not reveal much.
“We don’t know yet how things are. There is an operation that began in the early morning, and later we will give information on this,” AMLO said.
“It was another day of terror, but sadly in Mexico, terror has become normalized,” Grillo added.
Mexico Drug War journalist, Luis Chaparro, reported that locals of the town where Guzman were captured assert that the Mexican government is hiding the number of civilian casualties.
“People in Jesus Maria (the town where Ovidio Guzman was captured, are isolated, no phone, electricity or water. The roads remain closed from and to the town. Locals believe the government is hiding the real number of civilians killed and hurt during the “Operación Relámpago”.
People in Jesus Maria (the town where Ovidio Guzman was captured) are isolated, no phone, electricity or water. The roads remain closed from and to the town. Locals believe the government is hiding the real number of civilians killed and hurt during the “Operación Relámpago”. pic.twitter.com/jufv3lgXAu
— Luis Chaparro (@LuisKuryaki) January 7, 2023
Mexican federal agents attempted to use cardboard to block the local press from capturing the arrival of Ovidio at the Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime on Friday.
Mexican federal agents attempted to use cardboard to block the press from capturing the arrival of Ovidio Guzmán López at the Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime on Friday.#OvidioGuzman #OvidioGuzmán #Mexico #cartels #AMLO #MexicanDrugWar #WarOnDrugs #Chapo pic.twitter.com/L5MkrtkaOK
— Addy Adds (@OneAddyAdds) January 8, 2023
OG Shadow, a veteran Mexican Drug War reporter based in Culiacan, Sinaloa, heard gunfire throughout the night on Thursday and contended that Ovidio’s extradition to the United States Penitentiary, Florence Administrative Maximum Facility (USP Florence ADMAX), in Florence, Colorado, colloquially called ADX Florence, is likely imminent.
“Now, Ovidio is definitely going to be extradited as soon as they can get him out. I would not be surprised at all if he ends up being sent to his father in ADX. For those who don’t know, that’s the Alcatraz of the Rockies. Now, why I say that is because all the high-ranking members of these criminal groups are put in ADX due to its security and the fact that escape is basically impossible there,” Shadow said.
The Mexican journalist also explained the reason for the speedy extradition from Jesus Maria to Mexico City, which pertained to the fact the Mexican government had to release Ovidio the first time they arrested him in 2019.
“That’s also why they wanted to get Ovidio out of here as fast as they could for that exact reason because there’s more forces that are loyal to them and trustworthy in general in Mexico City, where the government is based out of, than here in Sinaloa,” Shadow said.
La Sombra explained that in rural Sinaloa, the Mexican armed forces are seen as occupiers by the locals, and not as allies.
“The government and especially soldiers, are kind of looked at as outsiders, almost like occupiers, because you know their military units active in the street put into these areas. It almost looks like a warzone to a certain extent because you have armed military in uniforms fighting narcos,” he said.
“It doesn’t look like a democratic, peaceful state once you deploy the military against civilian groups, because it just escalates it in case you guys haven’t noticed, as soon as the military got involved in this the cartels had to step up their game and get better at what they’re doing. Better guns, better training, because now they’re not just fighting each other they’re having to go up against the military,” Shadow stated.
“I think Ovidio is going to last a little while in Mexico City. Sometimes they do battle the [extradition]. If you want to look at Caro Quintero, they had him for 28 years and they couldn’t extradite him. Why? The United States government was trying for 28 years. They can’t. But they got Chapo, like that,” Shadow said snapping his fingers.
“I think they’re going to get Ovidio like that too,” he added.