PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico, Twenty-nine-year-old Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, son to Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is among seven men who were kidnapped Tuesday from a restaurant in the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, authorities said.
Jalisco State Attorney General Eduardo Almaguer told news media that Salazar and six other men were abducted during a raid late Monday at the upscale La Leche restaurant in the Pacific coast city.
The man’s kidnapping is the latest blow to his father’s purported drug empire, which began crumbling earlier this year when Guzman was arrested by Mexican authorities. He is awaiting extradition to the United States on numerous drug smuggling charges.
Salazar, who’s also wanted by U.S. authorities for smuggling, has been trying with his brother Iván Archivaldo to keep their father’s powerful Sinaloa cartel operating in his absence. With Guzman behind bars, though, other Mexican smugglers are trying to wrest back some of the Latin nation’s drug industry.
Authorities believe Salazar’s kidnapping might be part of that aim. Some reports allege that former Guzman associate and cousin Alfredo Beltrán Guzmán, 24, might have been behind the abductions.
Investigators said the Sinaloa cartel’s chief rival, the Jalisco-based New Generation cartel, was likely behind the kidnappings.
The incident occurred at about 1 a.m. local time Tuesday at the restaurant, which is located near the town’s main tourist section. Police said several women who accompanied the kidnapped men in the restaurant were not taken and unharmed.
The other six men who were kidnapped are also involved in criminal enterprises, Almaguer said.
“We want to stress that there is a very clear presumption that this had to do with a criminal group, it didn’t involve tourists or citizens who were involved in legitimate activities,” Almaguer said at a news conference.
Guzman has been in Mexican custody since January but is still awaiting U.S. extradition. He is presently being held in a detention facility just south of the American border and faces numerous drug charges in several U.S. cities.
Having twice previously escaped from Mexican jails, the notorious drug lord is now kept in solitary confinement under heavy guard.
By Shawn Price, Andrew V. Pestano and Doug G. Ware