Early Monday morning Aug. 15, a group of gunmen burst into a trendy restaurant on a main boulevard in Puerto Vallarta, a resort city on Mexico’s Pacific coast, abducting at gunpoint six men who were in the restaurant.
In the confusion that followed, reports emerged that one, or possibly two, of Sinaloa kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán’s sons had been kidnapped, allegedly by members of the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG), the Sinaloa cartel’s only real rival in terms of power.
Mexican officials later confirmed that Jesus Alfredo Guzmán, the kingpin’s youngest son, was taken along with five others, and reports that Ivan Archivaldo, Guzmán’s oldest son, was also taken, remain unconfirmed.
The Jalisco state prosecutor, however, did admit that the CJNG was behind the abduction, setting the stage for a clash between two of Mexico’s most powerful cartels.
Below, you can see video, leaked by an unknown source and reposted on social media, of when gunmen stormed into La Leche restaurant, just after 1 a.m. local time.
The video shows the victims in the restaurant’s main room, sitting around a long table with several women, reportedly celebrating the 33rd birthday of Ivan Archivaldo. Just after one of the abductees gets up to use the phone in the lobby, the gunmen, with faces uncovered, burst in, waving rifles.
Without firing a shot, the attackers are able to round up six of the men in the restaurant, forcing them to their knees in the lobby before then presumably escorting them out at gunpoint.
In an interview with El Universal, Eduardo Almaguer, the Jalisco state prosecutor, said that 16 people — nine women and seven men — were in the restaurant. One of the men left before the arrival of the gunmen, who he said were members of CJNG.
Unconfirmed reports have said the man who left just before the gunmen got there was Ivan Archivaldo; others have suggested that because someone left right before the attackers arrived indicates there was someone on the inside involved.
Almaguer, speaking with El Universal, did not rule out that Ivan Archivaldo was one of the two victims who remain unidentified and stressed that the Jalisco state prosecutor was working with the federal prosecutor’s office to determine who was missing.
Law-enforcement sources also told El Universal that Ivan Archivaldo was among those taken, and one of the elder Guzmán’s lawyers said family members had told him it was very likely Ivan was kidnapped with his younger brother.
The CJNG’s purported involvement gives the incident even more sinister implications, as a move against the Sinaloa cartel could be the start of a full-scale cartel war.
The governors of the states where the cartels are based — Jalisco and Sinaloa, both on the Pacific coast — have warned that reprisal attacks may be on the way. The state sandwiched between them, Nayarit, is bolsteringits security in case of a bloodbath.
“We are coordinating with the federal government to reinforce these areas,” said Jalisco Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval, according to AFP. His Sinaloa counterpart, Mario Lopez Valdez, warned of a potential “flare-up” between the two cartels.
What happens next with Alfredo — and Ivan, if he was taken — may influence the fate of both the Sinaloa cartel and Mexico itself.
“If they use (Guzman) as a bargaining chip, this could go down calmly. But if they liquidate him, there will be chaos up and down the northern Pacific coast,” Jose Reveles, a journalist and author of books on drug trafficking, told AFP.
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