Mexico City. A man believed to be the son of Mexico’s most-wanted drug trafficker has been detained by the Mexican navy, one of a series of recent moves aimed at toppling the elusive kingpin, Mexican officials said Thursday.
Jesus Aflredo Guzman Salazar, 26, “the presumed son” of Joaquin Guzman Loera, better known as El Chapo, or Shorty, was arrested Thursday morning in Jalisco state, on the central Pacific coast, along with another person, the navy said in a statement, but it did not say what charges they might face.
The two were taken to Mexico City and presented to the media, with Guzman Salazar, whom the navy described as “one of the main directors of the Sinaloa cartel,” looking somber and downcast in a light blue shirt covered by a bulletproof vest.
Guzman Salazar, Mexican officials said, managed his father’s real estate holdings and coordinated most of the drug organization’s shipments of cocaine and marijuana to the United States.
US drug agents, Mexican officials said, assisted in providing information leading to his arrest.
The US Treasury Department this month said it had placed Guzman Salazar and his mother, Maria Alejandrina Salazar Hernandez, on a financial sanctions list, a move intended to block money laundering by barring US businesses and citizens from doing business with them.
He had been indicted in 2009 on several drug-related charges in Illinois, making it possible he could be extradited to the United States.
The Mexican authorities in recent months have arrested men said to be crucial operatives in the Sinaloa drug organization run by Guzman Loera.
Guzman Loera, 55, who is believed to lead a worldwide cocaine and marijuana trafficking empire worth several billion dollars, faces drug trafficking and other charges in the US and Mexico. He has been sought since escaping from prison in 2001 in a laundry cart after bribing his guards.
His family members, too, have been sought by the authorities and rival traffickers.
In 2008, another son, Edgar Guzman Lopez, 22, one of several children Guzman Loera is believed to have fathered with different partners, was killed in a gunfight in Sinaloa, Guzman Loera’s home state. Last year, a cousin, Juan Guzman Rocha, 39, was found dead of gunshot wounds on a Sinaloa highway.
Another son, Ivan Archivaldo Guzman Salazar, served a few years in prison on money laundering charges but was released in 2008 by a judge who found the evidence lacking. That son and another, Ovidio Guzman Lopez, were placed on the Treasury Department “black list” in May.
Griselda Lopez Perez, now a former wife of Guzman Loera, was detained on unspecified charges in May 2010 for less than a day and released.
There has been widespread speculation here that Guzman Loera would be caught before Mexico’s July 1 presidential election. The incumbent party of President Felipe Calderon, who has taken an aggressive stance against drug gang leaders, has been trailing in the polls behind Enrique Pena Nieto, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which has been fighting a reputation for being more accommodating to traffickers.
In August, Guzman Loera’s current wife, Emma Coronel, a 22-year-old former beauty queen, gave birth to twins in a hospital in the Los Angeles area but was not detained because there were no charges against her. She slipped back across the border with the babies.
The New York Times