Alfredo Beltran Guzmán, the Mexican narco scion thought to be the current leader of the Beltran Leyva cartel, was arrested in a barbershop near the city of Guadalajara on Friday.
Mexican federal police, working with elements of the Mexican army and navy, detained Beltran Guzmán, 24, along with four of his bodyguards.
Beltran Guzmán and his crew had seven firearms, a grenade, over $2,400, cocaine, and two vehicles.
Beltran Guzmán has extensive links to the Mexican drug underworld. He is the son of Alfredo Beltran Leyva, aka “El Mochomo,” or the Desert Ant. Beltran Guzman is called “El Mochomito,” the diminutive form of the name.
Beltran Leyva, along with his brothers, was allied with the Sinaloa cartel of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán for much of the 2000s, but the two groups split in 2008, after the Beltran Leyva clan came to believe “El Chapo” Guzmán had sold Alfredo Beltran Leyva out to authorities. (Beltran Leyva was extradited to the US in 2014.)
The Beltran Leyva Organization struck out on its own, allying with other cartels. Arrests and deaths have weakened the BLO, but it maintains a presence in several parts of Mexico.
Beltran Guzmán’s arrest comes as internal tension and external pressure appear to be straining the long-dominant Sinaloa cartel.
Beltran Guzmán is suspected of working with other Mexican criminal organizations to lead an offensive against the cartel and family of his uncle, who is currently imprisoned in northern Mexico, facing extradition to the US.
In June, an armed group descended on the isolated municipality of Badiraguato in eastern Sinaloa state. The attack left several dead, and the raiding party sacked several homes, including that of Maria Consuelo Loera Perez, “El Chapo” Guzmán’s mother.
Hundreds of people from the surrounding communities, including Loera, fled in the wake of that attack.
Two months later, at least one of Guzmán’s sons, Alfredo, and several acquaintances were kidnapped from an upscale restaurant in the resort city of Puerto Vallarta, west of Guadalajara. They were all released five days later, unharmed.
The attack in Badiraguato was reportedly undertaken by an alliance of the BLO, the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG), and former members of other fragmented criminal organizations.
Beltran Guzmán is also accused of involvement in a September 30 ambush in Culiacan, the Sinaloa state capital, that left five Mexican soldiers dead and 10 wounded.
Initially, that attack was blamed on “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sons, Ivan and Alfredo. However, in the weeks since, reports have emerged pinning the attack on Beltran Guzmán and the BLO as well as on a faction led by “El Mayo” Zambada, one of the leaders of the Sinaloa cartel.
“El Mayo” Zambada’s faction of the Sinaloa cartel is reportedly in conflict with a Sinaloa faction led by “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sons, and Zambada’s purported involvement in the September 30 incident was thought to be an effort to stir up trouble on that rival faction’s territory.
Zambada’s faction has not totally avoided attention from authorities, though, as an October 30 clash between federal security forces and Los Ántrax, the armed wing of his faction, left several dead, including the head of Los Ántrax.
Beltran Guzmán reportedly had his center of operations in Culiacan, the Sinaloa state capital, but he relocated to Guadalajara to avoid capture.
The Sinaloa cartel and its rivals have become ensnared in several clashes on Mexico’s west coast.
In Tijuana, the CJNG has joined with remnants of the Tijuana cartel to challenge Sinaloa’s control there.
In the small state of Colima, CJNG and Sinaloa elements are believed to be vying for control of the important port of Manzanillo.
In Guerrero, a hub for opium production, the Sinaloa cartel, CJNG, and the BLO are all thought to be part of a multisided conflict, particularly in Acapulco.
In Acapulco, a once idyllic resort city riven by narco violence, several BLO members have been apprehended in recent months, including El Ruso, the BLO’s top enforcer and trafficker in the city, in July and El Benny, El Ruso’s successor and allegedly the chief BLO hit man in the city, in November.