Ovidio Guzman Lopez, a son of imprisoned cartel leader “El Chapo,” is accused of helping his father’s powerful Sinaloa cartel traffic drugs since he was a teenager. An indictment in the United States says that Ovidio Guzman Lopez is also known as “El Raton” and “Raton Nuevo.” He’s the El Chapo son who was captured and then freed in Culiacan on October 17, 2019 as gun battles raged in that Sinaloa city.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador confirmed that Ovidio was captured and then released with his knowledge. Already under fire for the country’s violence after the mass killings of police officers by a cartel, Obrador said Guzman Lopez’s release was “because the situation became very difficult and many citizens were at risk.”
The nicknames translate to the The Mouse or The New Mouse; Ovidio is also sometimes known as “Ovid.” El Chapo’s full name is Joaquín Guzmán Loera; he started the powerful Sinaloa cartel in 1989 and built it into a massive enterprise funneling drugs into the United States. Ovidio is one of El Chapo’s younger and lesser known sons, but he’s accused by the U.S. government of being involved in the cartel’s drug trafficking of methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. Ovidio’s brief arrest led to mayhem in the streets of Culiacan with armed vehicles sporting machine guns and sniper rifles seen around the city.
The massive gun battle erupted in the streets of Culiacán, Sinaloa, as Mexican security forces fought cartel gunmen. In 2018, The New York Post reported that U.S. government officials believe “… The defendant’s (El Chapo’s) sons remain in charge of his vast drug trafficking empire.” (El Chapo is believed to have at least 13 children; some of them (especially his most powerful son, Ivan) flash their wealth openly on social media. Learn more about all of El Chapo’s kids here.)
The New York Times reported that Iván was also was briefly arrested but escaped and orchestrated the violence that led to Ovidio’s freedom.
Reuters has now confirmed that El Chapo’s son was released. Shortly after that report, a lawyer for El Chapo’s family told AP: “Ovidio is alive and free.” That came after news spread around the globe that Ovidio was under arrest. The New York Post is now reporting that the botched arrest attempt came as a result of a warrant for Ovidio’s arrest issued by a judge in Washington D.C.
“Heavily armed cartel fighters surrounded security forces and made them free one of drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman’s sons, whose brief apprehension triggered intense gunbattles across the city of Culiacan,” Reuters reported. CNBC is also reporting that “Heavily armed cartel fighters surrounded security forces and made them free” Ovidio.
According to AZCentral, the “extended gun battle with high-caliber weapons” unfolded on Thursday, October 17, 2019 throughout the streets of Culiacán, and the city was ringed with burning vehicles. “Heavily armed civilians in trucks” opened fire with sniper rifles and machine guns. Mexican security forces blocked entrance to the city and were there in force, the site reported.
However, El Horizonte then reported, “After clashes, the decision was made to release Ovidio Guzmán, son of #Chapo and thus try to avoid more violence.”
Here’s what you need to know about El Chapo’s son:
1. Mexican Authorities Initially Confirmed the Arrest of El Chapo’s Son in a News Conference But Then Said They Retreated to ‘Recover Calm’
Riodoce, a Spanish-language publication based in Culiacan, reported that the Secretary of Public Security and Citizen Protection, Alfonso Durazo “confirmed the arrest…Violence has erupted in the streets of Culiacán, Sinaloa, as Mexican security forces battle cartel gunmen.” Here’s the press conference that officials gave.
“The decision was taken to retreat from the house, without Guzman to try to avoid more violence in the area and preserve the lives of our personnel and recover calm in the city,” Durazo said, according to CNBC.
Mexican news reports say that Ovidio was initially discovered inside a house by a “routine patrol.” El Chapo’s son was arrested “inside a house located in the Tres Ríos.” The New York Post reported that eight people died in this raid.
Riodoce reported that at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, “a patrol composed of 30 elements of the National Guard and Sedena were carrying out a routine patrol at the Tres Ríos subdivision in Culiacan, Sinaloa, when they were attacked from a home. Patrol personnel repelled the aggression and took control of the house, locating four occupants inside.” One was El Chapo’s son.
Riodoce also reported, in a different article, that the city was consumed by “shootings and roadblocks that began in Culiacán after the capture of Ovidio Guzmán López,” described as “heir to Joaquín Guzmán Loera, el Chapo, leader of the Sinaloa Cartel already detained in the United States.”
The Guardian reported that “masked gunmen threw up burning barricades and traded gunfire with security forces.”
According to Guardian, photos emerged showing Ovidio “in detention in a light blue shirt, with what appeared to be religious medallions around his neck.” However, it didn’t last and he was released shortly thereafter.
2. Some of El Chapo’s Sons Are Known as ‘Los Chapitos’ or ‘Little Chapos’ (Little Shorties)
Ovidio Guzmán López, 28, is one of the four children born to the drug lord’s second marriage. He and his brother Joaquín Guzmán López are named in a U.S. cocaine trafficking indictment, Guardian reported.
InSight Crime reports that little is known about Joaquín Guzmán López. As for Ovidio and two of El Chapo’s other sons, Iván Archivaldo, and Jesús Alfredo, they are “known collectively as ‘Los Chapitos,'” the site reports, adding that they were deeply involved in a successful power battle within the cartel against El Chapo’s “former right-hand man, Dámaso López Núñez, alias Licenciado.”
The latter was extradited to the United States in 2018, however, and this “solidified the sons’ place at the top of the organization” along with an El Chapo ally, Ismael Zambada Garcia. Most sites say that Ivan and Jesus have the most power of the sons; in fact, AP states they are the sons to whom the Los Chapitos moniker is usually applied, although some sites include the lower profile Ovidio in that group. Either way, it’s Ivan who is generally considered the most powerful of El Chapo’s sons, with Jesus next.
In 2019, Vice reported that Ismael Zambada, who co-founded the cartel with El Chapo, was trying to seize control of the drug enterprise from the Los Chapitos.
Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations at the DEA, told Vice that Ivan and Jesus were “dumber than rocks” and known for “being impetuous, excessively violent, and lacking in the surgical strategical abilities of their father.” Amidst all this internecine strife, Ovidio had flown under the radar, lacking his brothers’ high profile and social media excesses. Ivan posts photos of luxury automobiles, private planes, drugs and weaponry on social media.
“Gúzman’s sons have never gotten their hands dirty. They were very good at spending their father’s money buying luxurious cars, gold-plated AK-47s, running around with girlfriends,” Vigil told Vice. “They don’t really have the respect of the rank-and-file of the Sinaloa Cartel.”
Jesús Alfredo is on the DEA’s most wanted fugitive list. That page gives his name as Jesus Alfredo Guzman-Salazar.
3. The U.S. Indictment Accuses Ovidio Guzman Lopez of Conspiracy to Distribute Cocaine, Methamphetamine & Marijuana Into the United States
A February 2019 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice revealed “an indictment against Joaquin Guzman Lopez and Ovidio Guzman Lopez, charging them with a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana for importation into the United States.”
The Guzman Lopez brothers were “believed to currently reside in Mexico” and “are the sons of Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka ‘El Chapo,’ who was convicted by a jury in the Eastern District of New York for his role as the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel,” the government stated.
The U.S. indictment further alleges that “Joaquin Guzman Lopez, 34, and Ovidio Guzman Lopez, 28, are charged in a one-count indictment alleging that from in or around April 2008, through April 2018, they conspired to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana from Mexico and elsewhere for importation into the United States. This case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras.”
You can read the actual indictment here.
4. El Chapo Is Believed to Have as Many as 13 Children Or Even More
The drug lord was very prolific. According to Biography.com, “it’s believed Guzmán has married at least three times and is the father of nine, possibly 13 children.” CNN puts the number of El Chapo offspring at 12 or 13.
One of the “most conspicuous” of El Chapo’s children is Ivan Guzman. Biography.com reports that he leads an “extravagant playboy lifestyle full of cars, wild animals, guns and parties.” In contrast, Ovidio has been lower key. A Facebook page in Ivan’s name that many news sites attribute to him contains photos of weapons and drugs.
El Chapo’s most recent wife is the former beauty queen, Emma Coronel Aispuro, who married El Chapo in 2007 and was a fixture at his trial. With her, he has two daughters, whose barbie-themed birthday party once caused a controversy on social media.
El Chapo’s sons Ivan Archivaldo and Jesus Alfredo are his children with his first wife María Alejandrina Salazar Hernández, according to Fox News. The New York Post claims that Ivan and Jesus were El Chapo’s favorite sons and the ones he wanted to take over the cartel. He married their mother first, in 1977.
Other sites say that El Chapo may have as many as 15 kids, or even more than that. No one knows the exact number for sure. Alfredo was briefly captured by the Jalisco Cartel but was released. Vice reports that Chapo could have as many as 24 kids.
Ivan and Jesus have a sister named Alejandrina Gisselle Guzman, who recently launched her new line of clothing and accessories named after her father, El Chapo 701. On Alejandrina’s website, she writes that her father is “a friend of everyone,” a “willing leader” and “a humble orange vendor with many goals and great ambition.”
5. The U.S. Government Claims Ovidio’s Mother Plays a Key Role in the Cartel
According to Fox News, Ovidio Guzmán López, the youngest of the Los Chapitos brothers, is a son of El Chapo’s marriage to Griselda López Pérez. She is also known as Karla Perez Rojo.
Griselda had three other children in addition to Ovidio; one of them, Edgar Lopez, was later shot and killed. The other two children are named Grisella Guadalupe and Joaquin, El Heraldo reports. Heraldo further reports that “Griselda is wanted by the United States Government for drug trafficking and links to organized crime.”
According to the US DOJ, “The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)…announced the designation of Griselda Lopez Perez, a wife of fugitive drug lord Joaquin ‘Chapo’ Guzman Loera, who plays a key role in his drug trafficking organization. (The) action, pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act), prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with this individual, and also freezes any assets she may have under U.S. jurisdiction.”
The DOJ continued, “OFAC is designating Griselda Lopez Perez for her role in the operations of Guzman Loera’s drug trafficking organization, including her efforts to assist Guzman Loera in evading justice. Additionally, Griselda Lopez Perez provides material support to the drug trafficking activities of her husband. Guzman Loera was identified by the President as a significant foreign narcotics trafficker pursuant to the Kingpin Act in 2001.”
El Universal reported that Ovidio appeared for the first time on U.S, authorities’ radar in August of 2012 but has managed to keep a lower profile than his brothers.
The unrest in the streets on October 17, 2019 even led to some prisoners escaping. “We are trying to recover the security of the city of Culiacan,” Quirino Ordaz Coppel, the governor of Sinaloa, wrote on Twitter. “I am asking you all to stay safe and be vigilant.”
READ NEXT: El Chapo’s Kids, Listed.