Rivals Negotiate: US Watching Structure Of Current Mexican Underworld After Release Of Drug Lord's Kidnapped Son

By Lorne Matalon
August 22, 2016

When the son of imprisoned drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán and five others were abducted from a restaurant on Mexico's Pacific coast last week, analysts said revenge attacks would follow.

The younger Guzmán is wanted by the United States for alleged drug trafficking while working for his father's Sinaloa Federation.

Saturday, Guzmán was released unharmed reportedly after negotiations with the cartel that took him. Alfredo Guzmán, 29, was eating at a restaurant in Puerta Vallarta, Jalisco in the early morning on Aug. 15, when masked men brandishing machine guns entered. Guzmán was ordered to his knees.

The moment was captured by security cameras, a gripping image in a country where the elder Guzmán once seemed untouchable. Alfredo Guzmán was taken, but others with him were not. That suggested someone was sending a targeted message to fill a vacuum at the top of an  empire of organized crime.

The governors of Jalisco and Nayarit, which borders Jalisco, both said they were preparing for violence following the abductions. Then Saturday Alfredo Guzmán and the five taken with him were released.

A relative told Agence France Presse, "They were negotiating all this time, but now (the kidnapped men) are free and well."

Mexican authorities stated that a rival cartel took Alfredo Guzmán, implying that enemies can negotiate.

The unanswered question for the United States is what does that apparent negotiation reveal about the current state of the structure of the Mexican underworld. Alfredo's father El Chapo is in prison in Juárez, from El Paso, Texas. El Chapo's extradition to the United States was delayed by a Mexican federal judge in June.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The release of Alfredo Guzmán was reported by Agence France Presse. It has not been confirmed by the Mexican government.