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Mexican Birthday Party Gunpoint Kidnap Victims Include Son of El Chapo

By Calliope, Aug 17, 2016 | |
  1. Calliope
    View attachment 51765 Armed men abducted 10 to 12 presumed members of a crime gang who appeared to be celebrating at an upscale restaurant in the popular Mexican beach resort city of Puerto Vallarta, the authorities said on Monday.

    Eduardo Almaguer, the Jalisco State prosecutor, said at a news conference that the preliminary investigation indicated that both the kidnappers and their victims were members of criminal organizations.

    “They were not tourists or residents who work in legal activities,” Mr. Almaguer said. “They were people tied to a criminal group we can very clearly presume.”

    He said the authorities believe they know which groups were involved, but he declined to name them.

    The Jalisco New Generation cartel has become the dominant criminal force in the state. It has battled the powerful Sinaloa cartel for supremacy in other parts of the country, such as Baja California Sur.

    Mr. Almaguer said two S.U.V.s carrying five gunmen arrived around 1 a.m. at La Leche restaurant on the city’s main boulevard, which runs through an area of hotels between the old beach city and the airport.

    Witnesses reported that four women in the targeted group were not taken by the gunmen, he said. He said the authorities were looking for those women. All of those abducted were from the western states of Sinaloa, Nayarit and Jalisco, Mr. Almaguer said.

    He said some of those abducted had been vacationing in Puerto Vallarta for a week. Five vehicles were abandoned at the restaurant, among them one with Jalisco license plates, but a false registration.

    Alejandro Hope, a security analyst based in Mexico City, said Puerto Vallarta had some violence last year but had been quiet recently. While the Jalisco New Generation cartel controls the area, he said, it would be possible for another group to enter the city.

    Mr. Hope said it was odd that reputed cartel members would be taken without a shot being fired. “It’s a bit surprising that in effect they were drug traffickers but didn’t have any security,” he said.

    Jalisco’s governor, Aristoteles Sandoval, said through his official Twitter account that a search was underway for the victims and the kidnappers.

    The Associated Press
    AUG. 15, 2016
    Image: Ulises Ruiz Basurto/European Pressphoto Agency

    And the plot thickens, we see in the NYTimes story the next day:

    Son of El Chapo Is Kidnapped at Gunpoint From a Party in Mexico

    MEXICO CITY — The abduction was notable for how and where it took place — during a birthday party at a restaurant in the Mexican Pacific Coast resort of Puerto Vallarta — and because the kidnappers and the victims are criminals.

    Now, it turns out that a son of the drug cartel leader Joaquín Guzmán Loera was one of the six men abducted at gunpoint early Monday morning.

    Not a shot was fired as the gunmen hustled Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, 30 — an operative in the Sinaloa Cartel, Mexico’s most powerful criminal enterprise — and the others into sport utility vehicles, according to the attorney general for Jalisco State, Eduardo Almaguer. Mr. Almaguer confirmed Tuesday that the younger Mr. Guzmán was one of the missing men, who had not been heard from as of Tuesday night.

    His father’s escape last year from a maximum-security prison through a mile- long tunnel dug under his cell embarrassed the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto and underscored Mexico’s reputation for pervasive corruption and impunity for well-connected criminals. Mr. Peña Nieto had hailed his arrest in February 2014 as a major victory in a long campaign against the powerful narcotics rackets.

    The elder Mr. Guzmán, known as El Chapo, or Shorty, was recaptured in January and is fighting extradition to the United States. Jesús Alfredo and his older brother Iván Archivaldo Guzmán Salazar, 35, face federal drug trafficking and money laundering charges in the United States.

    Mr. Almaguer did not name the group behind the kidnapping this week, except to describe it as an organization that has been active in Jalisco. Over the past few years, a racket called the Jalisco New Generation Cartel has emerged as a growing force in western Mexico, and last year, it organized several deadly attacks on state and federal police officers.

    The kidnapping “appears to be in retaliation for some action that the Sinaloa Cartel has taken against Jalisco New Generation,” Eduardo Guerrero, a security consultant with Lantia Consultores in Mexico City, said in a telephone interview. “Let’s hope it isn’t the beginning of a series of violent events,” he said, although he described the younger Mr. Guzmán as more of a symbolic figure for the Sinaloa Cartel. The organization is believed to be under the control of Ismael Zambada García, a longtime associate of the elder Mr. Guzmán.

    Still, both brothers are close collaborators with their father. Iván Guzmán was arrested on money laundering charges in 2005 but was released in 2008 by a judge who found that there was insufficient evidence against him.

    Elisabeth Malkin
    AUG. 16, 2016
    Image: Reuters


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