Mexico captured a man believed to be a son of the country’s most wanted drug lord, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera, and who is considered a top leader in his father’s Sinaloa Cartel, authorities said.
Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar, 26, was detained this morning in Zapopan in the Pacific Coast state of Jalisco, the country’s navy said.
The U.S. Treasury Department froze Guzman Salazar’s U.S. assets June 7 for his alleged role in his father’s cartel operations. He was caught in taped conversations discussing heroin shipments for his father, according to U.S. court documents.
“Intelligence sources say Guzman Salazar was coordinating the movements of most drugs sent to the United States by the Sinaloa Cartel,” navy spokesman Jose Luis Vergara said today in Mexico City. “Guzman Salazar was taking an increasing amount of control of the Sinaloa Cartel operations.”
Joaquin Guzman Loera, who heads the Sinaloa Cartel, escaped from a federal prison in a laundry truck in 2001. Guzman was ranked 1,140th in Forbes magazine’s 2011 list of the world’s richest people, with an estimated net worth of $1 billion.
Guzman Salazar coordinated deliveries of large quantities of cocaine and heroin into the United States on behalf his father, according to Illinois U.S. district court documents dated Nov. 10, 2011. He was also accused of delivering “bulk quantities of United States currency to Joaquin Guzman-Loera and the Guzman-Loera faction from its customers in the United States,” according to the documents.
“He’s in the inner circle,” of the cartel, said Malcolm Beith, author of “Hasta El Ultimo Dia,” which is Spanish for ‘until the last day,’ a 2012 book about Mexico’s battle against drug gangs. “His capture will further deteriorate El Chapo’s ability to operate with confidence.”
More than 47,000 people have died in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon deployed troops to fight drug gangs in December 2006.
Calderon steps down Dec. 1 following presidential elections July 1.
-Editors: Jonathan Roeder, Robert Jameson