MEXICO CITY – Mexican marines on Thursday detained a young man they believe is one of the sons of Mexico’s most-wanted drug kingpin, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, leader of the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
The presumed son, identified by the Navy as Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, 26, was allegedly taking on an increasing leadership role in Mexico’s most powerful drug cartel and purportedly served as the administrator of his father’s fortune, estimated by Forbes magazine at about $1 billion.
The boyish, heavyset Guzman Salazar, known as “El Gordo,” or “Fattie,” was captured early Thursday during a raid by marines in Zapopan, an upscale suburb of the western city of Guadalajara, thanks to intelligence work and information from U.S. authorities, Navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara said.
Also captured in the raid was an alleged 19-year-old Sinaloa cartel member, Kevin Daniel Beltran Rios. The pair were caught with a grenade launcher and four grenades, two assault rifles, two pistols and $135,000 in cash.
Vergara said Guzman Salazar was “a key element” in the Sinaloa cartel, “not just because of his blood tie to the leader … but because he was presumably in charge of managing his assets.”
“Intelligence sources say that Guzman Salazar was coordinating the majority of the drug shipments sent to the United States by the Sinaloa cartel, including cocaine and heroin,” Vergara said, adding that “several sources also say Guzman Salazar was taking increasing control of Sinaloa cartel operations.”
When he was paraded before news media, the paunchy Guzman Salazar mostly kept his eyes down or closed. Dressed in a red polo shirt and jeans, he did not answer when asked where his father is.
Vergara said the capture was due to months of Navy intelligence work and information from U.S. authorities. He said Guzman Salazar is wanted in the United States on an outstanding extradition request to face charges in Chicago related to drug trafficking.
Guzman Salazar and his father were indicted on multiple drug trafficking charges in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in August 2009, the U.S. Treasury Department said earlier this month.