Mexico Just Captured El Chapo’s Son—Again

Ovidio Guzmán, a Sinaloa Cartel leader, was arrested—for the second time—in the city of Culiacán by government forces.
Ovidio Guzmán when he was arrested by government forces in 2019. 

Ovidio Guzmán, one of the sons of famed drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and a key leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, has been captured in the city of Culiacán. Again.

Guzmán, 33, who has a $5 million bounty on his head, was in federal government custody on the morning of Jan. 5, according to government sources quoted in local media.


This is the second time that Guzmán has been captured by the Mexican government. The first time, in 2019, he was released after thousands of cartel henchmen descended on the city to defend him in an incident widely perceived as humiliating for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s government.

A U.S. law enforcement source confirmed Jan. 5 to VICE World News that Guzmán had been arrested by the Mexican military, but that security forces were struggling to transport him out of Sinaloa amid the chaos. Shortly afterwards, local media reported that Guzmán had been transferred to a military base in Mexico City.

The operation to capture Ovidio started on Wednesday night around the town of Jesús María, on the outskirts of Culiacán, according to sources linked to the Sinaloa Cartel. Residents of the city, widely viewed as the headquarters of the Sinaloa Cartel, awoke Thursday morning to shootings and highway blockades, allegedly a result of cartel members trying to rescue Guzmán, according to news reports

Several vehicles were set on fire on the main street between Culiacán and Jesús María, authorities said. The Mexican military arrested him “less than 15 minutes” drive from the grave of his brother Edgar Guzmán, according to the same source speaking anonymously with VICE World News. 


The news of the operation capture one of “Los Chapitos”, as El Chapo’s sons are known, sparked fear between local residents. 

“We are still trying to recover from the last ‘Culiacanazo’, and now we wake up to this again. It’s terrible, the government should just leave the folks alone,” Juan Chico, a Culiacán local resident, told VICE World News. 

“We ask the citizens of Culiacán not to leave home due to the blockades that have occurred in different parts of the city,” city Mayor Juan de Dios Gámez wrote on Twitter. During his daily morning conference, President López Obrador said a federal police operation was taking place in the state, but that he did not have further details.

Schools and offices around the city of Culiacán were closed by orders of the state government, fearing retaliation from cartel members. 

The state of Sinaloa and its capital city Culiacán is home to the eponymous cartel, which was long directed by El Chapo until he was captured for the last time and finally extradited to the U.S. Authorities believe that his sons, Iván Archivaldo, Jesús Alfredo, Joaquín and Ovidio Guzmán took his place in the organization.

Sinaloa was engulfed by violence after El Chapo was extradited and eventually sentenced to life in prison, and the Chapitos have contested the reins of the cartel with other major players, most viciously Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada, and Chapo’s former right-hand man Damaso López, who lost his struggle for power and was sentenced to life in prison in 2018. 

Stunningly, after his release in 2019, lawyers for Guzmán’s family held a press conference to thank López Obrador for releasing Ovidio Guzmán.

Keegan Hamilton and Nathaniel Janowitz contributed to reporting.