“Socalj” for Borderland Beat 

Ovidio’s arrest took place just days prior to Biden’s first visit to Mexico to discuss issues including fentanyl trafficking and immigration policies.
Ovidio Guzmán’s arrest on Thursday came at the cost of at least 30 lives; notably more than the deaths that occurred during the first attempt and ensuing “Culiacanazo”. 11 of those killed were soldiers and law enforcement personnel with 19 suspected cartel gunmen. But analysts predict “it won’t have any impact on the flow of drugs to the United States.” The capture of Ovidio is largely being seen as overcoming past humiliation stemming from Ovidio’s release following the first wave of Culiacanazo violence in 2019. It was also redemption for SEDENA having been overwhelmed and threatened into submission prior. 
The display of military power included helicopter gunships, hundreds of troops (nearly 5,000 personnel participated in the operation and resulting aftermath), and armored vehicles. It is also reverting to the kingpin strategy that AMLO had sworn to ditch in an effort to curb the violence of the drug war. Perhaps coincidentally, it came just days before US President Joe Biden makes the first visit by a US President in almost a decade. The capture comes as the North American Summit between the US, Canada, and Mexico is set to begin with US President Joe Biden’s arrival in Mexico set for this weekend.
President Joe Biden hopes to focus on the flow of fentanyl into the United States during a meeting in Mexico City with leaders from Mexico and Canada next week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. 
Ovidio’s arrest is unlikely to have a huge effect due to the high profits and quick manufacturing process of fentanyl; he was one of the main traffickers of that drug within the Sinaloa Cartel, Los Chapitos/Menores faction. His capture also allows Mexico more leverage when discussions of US/DEA involvement directly in Mexico as it would act as proof of their ability to go after high-level targets and operations.

A Good Will Gesture to Biden?

Given the timing of the North American Summit coming just days after the high-profile capture of Ovidio “El Raton” Guzman Lopez could be seen as either US involvement (which AMLO has denied during the following day’s press conference, as he did with Caro Quintero); or a goodwill gesture to show their strength in fighting the drug war on Mexican soil. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox questioned this exactly via Twitter the morning of the capture asking, “OVIDIO WILL BE THE GIFT FOR BIDEN???”
Political scientist Luis Leal from the UDLAP stated”Really, Ovidio is more of a name than a strategic piece in Mexican drug trafficking, due to the division of the Sinaloa Cartel into various groups, as is known. It must be an attempt for the Mexican government to have as many cards as possible before the government of the United States to negotiate various issues such as the USMCA panels that can have a profound impact on the finances of the Mexican government.”
Leal stressed that extradition processes last between 1 and 2 years on average, depending on the resources of the defendants. Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard declared that there will be no immediate extradition of Ovidio Guzmán and that the proper legal process will take place regarding the request by the US first delivered in September 2019.

The spokesman for the National Security Council of the United States, John Kirby, thanked Mexico for the arrest in a press conference from the White House. Kirby said that “it is not an insignificant achievement on the part of the Mexican authorities,” adding “we are certainly grateful for it,” he added. He assured that they are going to talk “a lot” about this issue during the upcoming meetings in Mexico.

Tensions Over the Drug War & Migration

He also pointed out that this operation “softens the relationship with the United States, which has been tense in recent months; first, due to security issues and, later, due to migration.” 

Tensions over the sovereignty of Mexico also occurred as former US President Donald Trump and multiple other politicians looked to designate Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations following the La Baron Mormon massacre. This could have opened the country up to US military action to go after the cartels and
There is also commercial tension between the two countries within the framework of the T-MEC. In May 2021, the United States considered the existence of labor abuses in Mexico and requested the establishment of a dispute panel to address this issue and another related to the rules of origin for automotive exports.

Title 42 Remains in Place

In recent years, the migration crisis has increased. Title 42 was implemented at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by the Trump administration when access was limited to the US via its border entries and flights. This forces asylum seekers to remain in their current country while applying to the US. It still remains in effect today as recent attempts to let expire the policy was blocked by federal judges.

A new immigration plan presented by Biden last week and applauded by the Mexican government contemplates delivering 30,000 humanitarian permits per month for Venezuelan, Cuban, Nicaraguan, and Haitian migrants who have a sponsor in the United States. And it was agreed, that migrants of those nationalities expelled from the United States will be taken back to Mexico, not deported to their home countries. This has made cities like Tijuana a refuge for citizens of Haiti and Central America, waiting for permission to enter the United States as a refugee. But for many, that hasn’t happened and the process has been slow.

Mexican President AMLO responded to questions that the capture could be interpreted as a gesture before the upcoming summit.

AMLO’s Response

“About the interpretations, since there are many, we rethink them, of course, we do not share them, because we act autonomously. I am going to give you as background that, in two difficult moments, when Donald Trump was president, he spoke to me to offer us support, precisely when we stopped and had to release Ovidio for the first time. On that occasion I made the decision to release him due to the risks to the civilian population, we calculated that there would be many innocent deaths and we made that decision. President Trump spoke to me to offer me support; I thanked him and told him that it was our business and that we were going to face it, to solve it.”

“Then came another event, also very unfortunate: the murder of women in Bavispe, with children, the LeBarón family, and two other families. So, well, that unfortunate event was also very strong, and President Trump also spoke to me for the same thing, to tell me that they could help with personnel and with whatever was needed; and the same thing, the answer was: No, thank you very much, we are going to investigate what happened, accordingly, and those responsible will be punished. This, by the way, has already been done, because there are close to 100 detainees in the Bavispe case.”

“So, we have always taken care.”