After six days being held captive, one of the sons of drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been released by his kidnappers, a member of his family said.
Speaking to AFP, the relative said that 29-year-old Jesus Alfredo Guzman Salazar and the five other men who were taken with him from an upscale restaurant in Puerto Vallarta were freed on late Friday night.
"They were negotiating all this time, but now are free and well," the source said, adding that some of the captured men had already returned to the cartel’s home turf in the neighboring state of Sinaloa.
Guzmán Salazar was attending a celebration last Sunday evening at Puerto Vallarta’s La Leche restaurant when a group of armed men swooped in and kidnapped him and five of his companions. Several women who were attending the party were allowed to leave unharmed.
The Mexican Attorney General's office, which was informed by AFP of Guzmán Salazar’s release, said that it is "still working on the investigation.” Authorities had previously said that the kidnapping was the work of the rival Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG).
The CJNG is one of the new breeds of organized crime groups cropping up across Mexico in the wake of the government's war against the old guard of cartels — chiefly the Zetas, the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels. The group, which formed in 2010 following the splintering of the Milenio Cartel, was first established with the express purpose of countering the Zetas, but once that group was effectively dismantled, CJNG began to take on other, bigger targets — namely, Guzmán’s Sinaloa Cartel and the Mexican government itself.
The kidnapping of Guzmán’s son has been taken as a sign that the Sinaloa Cartel’s power is one the wane and that CJNG is looking to assert itself as the top player in Mexico’s drug trade.
The governors of both the Mexican states of Jalisco and Sinaloa, where the two cartels are based, previously warned of possible reprisal attacks from the Sinaloa Cartel or even a full blown cartel war between the drug cartels if Guzman Salazar was not released.
The AFP’s source did not tell the news agency why Guzmán Salazar was released from captivity nor who was behind the kidnapping.
Guzmán Salazar has long been on the radar of authorities. In 2009, he was indicted on U.S. drug trafficking charges in Chicago along with his father and other Sinaloa cartel leaders.
In 2012, the U.S. Treasury Department designated him under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act as assisting his father in drug trafficking. That same year, Mexican marines mistakenly arrested a used car salesman and presented him to the press as Jesus Alfredo.
There have recently been rumors of infighting within the Sinaloa organization – something unheard of when Chapo was out of prison – and the June attack on his mother’s home appears to have been the work of Guzmán adversaries (and relatives) known as “El Guano” and “El Mochomito.”
There has also been talk of a rift between Ismael “El Mayo” Zambada García – Guzmán’s old cartel partner – and his sons, Jesús Alfredo and Iván Archivaldo Guzmán.