Sinaloa Cartel Blocks Roads and Holds Airports Hostage


On January 5, 2023, the capital of Sinaloa, Culiacan, was met with violence as a confrontation between security forces and cartel members broke out following the arrest of Ovidio Guzman. Guzman, the son of infamous Mexican drug dealer El Chapo, otherwise known as Joaquin Guzman, who previously held the position of leader of the Sinaloa cartel but is currently imprisoned.

Following a predawn operation, Guzman, 33, was arrested by Mexican security forces north of Culiacan. The violence that erupted following his capture is similar to what had occurred the last time officials attempted to arrest him in 2019. The first time they sought to catch Guzman, the violence in Culiacan was so extreme that President Andrés Manuel Guzman Obrador eventually ordered the military to release the alleged drug trafficker, suspending the operation, in desperate attempts to relieve his people of the current violence they faced.

While facing several attacks all throughout the state of Sinaloa, the air force unit was still more than proficient in transporting Guzman to Mexico City. Due to the strength and violent force the cartel possesses, officials made the decision to cancel flights, momentarily suspend school, and even urge shelter-in-place orders with residents of the state. Mexican Secretary of Defense Luis Cresencio Sandoval González shared that promptly after the capture of Guzman, cartel members blocked all six entrances to the city and managed to attack a commercial airport, as well as an air force base located nearby. Additionally, officials have shared that the violence led to the death of one and injury of a minimum of 25 Mexican security forces, not to mention the gunfire that hit both a commercial and an air force plane.

In 2018 Guzman was accused of conspiring to distribute several drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana in the United States during a federal indictment in Washington D.C. The former DEA’s chief of international operations, Mike Vigil, shared that Guzman was notably involved in all activities regarding the cartel, including producing fentanyl. The former indictment, alongside the previous operation for Guzman’s capture, has finally reached a partial resolution and victory after a long six-month process including surveillance of the cartel’s territories. Once the national guard spotted SUVs, security forces were able to identify Guzman as one of the cartel members among those possessing a firearm, eventually leading to the capture of Ovidio Guzman.