“Socalj” for Borderland Beat

No civilians lost their lives during the operation to capture Ovidio Guzmán Lopez and the subsequent attacks by the Sinaloa Cartel faction.
At President AMLO’s morning press conference, the first and primary topic of the day was the capture and subsequent violence following the arrest of Ovidio Guzman Lopez, “El Raton” the day prior. Statements from the President, Secretary of Security, and head of SEDENA were provided alongside details of the operation and resulting casualties and plans for security going forward.

“We are very sorry for the loss of life, of course, of those who lost their lives in the line of duty: soldiers and members of the Guard; and we also regret all the loss of life of the human beings who participated in these clashes yesterday,” began President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at his morning press conference.”
“And finally, to reiterate: we have not come to win a war, we have come to build peace,” stated Secretary of Security and Citizen Protection, Rosa Icela Rodríguez.

Luis Crescencio Sandoval, Secretary of National Defense (Sedena) stated that during the early morning of January 5, 2023, a National Guard patrol was deployed to the north of the town of Jesús María, in the municipality of Culiacán, Sinaloa. The patrol detected 6 suspicious armored vehicles. It had been suspected through intel and surveillance that Ovidio had been operating in the area for at least the past 6 months. 

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Following an attempt to stop and detain the men in the vehicles, they began to fire back. The attackers fled by entering a home in the town of Jesús María, where they continued shooting. The Army and National Guard soldiers responded to the attack, detaining 18 armed people, one of them identified himself as Ovidio.
As a result of the events, a considerable number of criminal cells managed to group together with the intention of rescuing Ovidio by attacking military personnel who were at the scene. Unfortunately, 7 soldiers lost their lives in the line of duty, and 9 were wounded there in Jesús María.
He confirmed the death of 10 soldiers and 35 soldiers were injured during the violent day that took place this Thursday in Sinaloa after the capture of Ovidio Guzmán, son of “El Chapo.” There were also 19 deaths of cartel gunmen associated with the Sinaloa Cartel and 21 more were detained. Confiscated weapons including 26 Barrett rifles, 6 50-caliber machine guns, 26 long arms, two short arms, 111 chargers, 595 cartridges of different calibers, and bulletproof vests; 13 insured vehicles, 40 were disabled; and 26 of which were armored.
“Ten soldiers, unfortunately, lost their lives in the line of duty, in order to guarantee the safety of the citizens and the people of Sinaloa,” he stated during the morning conference. 3,586 members of the Armed Forces participated in the capture and subsequent defense of facilities and cities during confrontations with cartel gunmen.

Narco Blockades & Retaliation

Narco blockades were set up across the state with confrontations starting at 5:30AM Thursday morning; almost an hour after Ovidio’s capture. Cartel gunmen begin to block highways in Mazatlán and Escuinapa, as well as in Ahome, El Fuerte, and Choix; in Culiacán multiple confrontations were reported including the looting of stores. Federal Highway Mexico 15 there are blocked from north to south, and truck trailers and convenience stores are set on fire.

Attacks on military personnel took place in Culiacán and Escuinapa. The Governor of Sinaloa, Rubén Rocha Moya mentioned that there are no detainees from the Culiacanazo 2.0. There was one dead police officer and 27 were wounded. He stated that 4 paramedics were kidnapped to treat hitmen and were later released.

Two aircraft of the Mexican Air Force that participated in the operations had to make an emergency landing after being shot at by cartel gunmen on the ground. “There were other attacks on our aircraft, a personnel transport aircraft, while at the airport was attacked and a soldier was injured. Also, a civilian AeroMexico plane was shot at,” stated Luis Crescencio Sandoval, Secretary of National Defense (Sedena). 

The violence began to subside in the evening, with any attempt to retrieve Ovidio from custody or force his release gone with his internment in federal prison in Mexico City. “There are no armed groups in Sinaloa, in blockades, which are already removing since yesterday all the cars that were set on fire and that they used to block the streets, practically in the entire city (of Culiacán),” he explained.

Increased Planning & Security Made the Recapture Successful

In 2019, Ovidio’s arrest took place in the afternoon daylight, and the military wasn’t prepared for the aftermath. So they were reactionary. With this recent capture being part of a six-month operation and knowing what happened before. It looks like they prepared for the attacks that took place afterward.  The military, FGR, and police started setting up security at Altiplano 6 hours before he got there.   

The head of SEDENA explained that a helicopter extracted Ovidio in the town of Jesús María and transferred him to the Bachihualato Federal airport, where a military aircraft took him to Mexico City, to make him available to the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime Investigation (FENDO) and later transferred to the Almoloya prison. 

Ovidio at Altiplano No. 1 Prison

An armored decoy convoy left prior to Ovidio’s transfer via the helicopter and two circular security perimeters had been set up surrounding the prison in case of a possible attack and escape attempt. He arrived at the prison around 6:00PM.

Starting at noon after the wave of violence unleashed in Culiacán and other cities by the capture of Ovidio Guzmán, the security elements began to assemble around the federal prison. Dozens of soldiers and police were deployed at strategic points in the area, all carrying assault weapons and aboard military-style armored vehicles. That perimeter security force was reinforced today with 1,000 additional elements from the Mexico Joint Task Force.