The mayor of the hometown of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel who has been a fugitive since busting out of Mexico’s highest-security prison last summer, says that Mexican forces have sealed off the town of La Tuna in the Badiguarato municipality of Sinaloa state.
“Since last weekend, there’s been a strong Mexican Marine presence there,” Badiguarato's mayor Mario Valenzuela told EFE news service on Thursday. “These are units that operate in a completely independent manner, without alerting local officials or anything.”
According to Mexico’s El Universal newspaper, the Marines have set up checkpoints at the entrance to La Tuna, where Guzmán’s mother, Consuelo Loera, as well as other relatives of the notorious cartel leader still live.
A large sign on the way into the mountainous town bears a Bible passage from Psalms warning people about the sorts of acts the town’s most famous son is famous for.
“The eyes of the Lord look over the righteous," it reads, "and his ears hear their cries. The Lord’s face is turned away from evildoers.”
Sinaloa newspaper RioDoce reported Thursday that for a period of time this week the federal troops didn’t let any people in or out of the town, and that helicopters were still crisscrossing the air space above the town.
The troops have reportedly installed themselves at a ranch belonging to Chapo’s brother, Aurelio Guzmán, who is known by the nickname, “El Guano.”
Mexican Marines are not confirming any operation in the area. RioDoce cited unnamed government sources who claimed that while there have been no arrests, eight deaths have occurred during the operation.
The outlet reported that the eight dead are believed to work for El Guano, and reported that they were intercepted by a unit of the armed forces at a bridge in the town of San José del Barranco, where they were killed in a firefight.