Something was up the day before Mexican forces arrested alleged fentanyl and methamphetamine boss Ovidio Guzman, son of the notorious drug lord known as “El Chapo.”
A Vancouver couple was on the beach near their Mazatlan hotel Jan. 4 and captured video of a dozen soldiers in commando gear emerging from the waves with rifles drawn.
“I tell you, this could have been a sheer coincidence, I don’t know,” said Greg Douglas, a veteran Vancouver sports media figure and 2010 B.C. Sports Hall of Fame inductee. “But the day before the arrest, we saw armed marine troops patrolling the streets here in Mazatlan. They were in vans, and there were helicopters flying overhead.”
A smartphone clip shot by Douglas’s wife Dee shows one soldier with right knee on the beach, waving comrades to join. They slowly emerge from the waves with rifles drawn and assume a similar kneeling position. A few moments go by and they slowly advance up the beach and kneel again, facing an officer observing the drill. The Douglases observed a similar drill from their eighth floor hotel room a day earlier.
Guzman’s arrest the next day sparked a fierce battle between soldiers and Sinaloa drug cartel gangsters, mainly centred around state capital Culiacan, which Greg Douglas said is a 90-minute drive from Mazatlan. Mexican media reported 19 cartel gunmen and 10 soldiers died in the battle. Mazatlan’s airport closed and Global Affairs Canada warned Canadians in the region to shelter-in-place.
“Everything, literally, everything shut down. Not a soul on the beach. No automobile traffic at all. Restaurants were closed after the after the word got out about the arrest,” Greg Douglas said. “Normally this area is just spilling over with locals and tourists, and everything went dead quiet.”
The city reopened Jan. 6 and everything was back to normal by Jan. 7. They were not in danger, but had to negotiate an extension at the hotel and re-book their flight to Vancouver with WestJet.
“Outside of a little added expenses here with the hotel and whatnot, it’s an extended vacation by a week,” Greg Douglas said.
In 2019, a New York judge sent Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to jail for life after a jury convicted him on a laundry list of drug trafficking, murder, firearms and money laundering conspiracy charges. Ovidio Gomez was originally arrested in October 2019 but freed. He remains in custody, facing possible extradition to the U.S.
The Criminal Intelligence Service Canada’s 2019 public report on organized crime in Canada pointed to Mexican cartels as a major source of cocaine and synthetic drugs, like fentanyl.
“At least four [high level threats] are linked to money launderers for large international organized crime networks, providing laundering services for domestic and international drug traffickers,” the report said. “Many of these groups have links to Mexican cartels, are suspected of importing synthetic drugs and cocaine and of being involved in illegal gaming, and are involved in the international movement of bulk cash and in loan sharking.”
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