Few details have been released regarding the capture this morning of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, one of the world’s most-wanted men, but reports indicate that it was triggered by a citizen’s tip to police about the presence of armed men in a home in the city of Los Mochis.
When federal security forces approached the building the occupants opened fire. News of the gunfire appeared on Twitter when residents posted warnings to others to remain in their homes, while helicopters patrolled overhead.
Guzmán was not the only big catch of the day.
Also arrested was Iván “El Cholo” Gastélum Cruz, identified by the federal government as the Sinaloa Cartel’s second in command.
Gastélum has been identified as heading efforts in northern Sinaloa to defend the interests of the cartel against rivals, and is also known for his romantic relationship with Miss Sinaloa 2012, who was killed in November last year.
Reports at the time said María Susana Flores Gamez, 20, died when cartel gunmen used her as a shield during a shootout with soldiers in Guamuchil, her home town.
More recently, Gastélum is believed to have been instructed by Guzmán to defend the cartel’s northern frontier in Sinaloa against incursions by cells in Sonora of the Beltrán Leyva Cartel, who have been attempting to take control of Sinaloa Cartel territory.
El Chapo was reportedly fighting on two fronts since his prison escape in July: combating the Beltrán Leyva gang and trying to evade capture.
Navy officials said two armored vehicles and firearms were seized during Guzmán’s arrest. According to El Universal, photos suggest that the cartel boss and his associates had an enormous arsenal in the house where they were hiding.
Among the arms were two 50-caliber weapons capable of piercing armored vehicles and a rocket-launcher.
Today’s events were greeted warmly by Mexican politicians and other officials, as well as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. “Today is a great day for justice and for the objectives of Mexico and the U.S.,” said a spokesman.
Guzmán staged a spectacular escape from the Altiplano federal prison on July 11, making his getaway through a 1.5-kilometer-long tunnel that connected his cell with a nearby house.
The elaborate structure was equipped with a motorcycle on rails to allow for a swift exit.
Several prison officials and guards have been implicated in the escape and are in custody, including the warden and the national director of prisons.
It was Guzmán’s second jailbreak. He escaped from a federal prison in Jalisco in 2001 while serving a 20-year sentence after his arrest in Guatemala in 1993, and spent the next 13 years eluding capture.
But capture eventually came in February 2014 when he was arrested in Mazatlán, Sinaloa.