The Mexican navy had been working months with U.S. intelligence so when they recently believed they had finally nabbed their target in a known narco-haven in suburban Guadalajara they were understandably thrilled. The Mexican navy presented a man they identified as Alfredo Guzman Salazar, saying he is believed to be the son of Sinaloa Cartel head Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. Guzman is widely believed to be Mexico’s top fugitive drug lord and a rising operator in the international drug trafficking organization. However, according to the captive’s wife, Karla Pacheco, this is all a serious case of mistaken identity.
The man arrested Thursday as the presumed son of Guzman, is really Felix Beltran Leon, the 23-year-old father of a toddler who works with his mother-in-law at a used car dealership, said Pacheco.
The Mexican Attorney General’s Office issued a statement Friday saying its information came from the U.S. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said the information came from Mexico. Both say they’re checking their DNA files. “The Mexican Navy and Mexican law enforcement have said this is El Chapo’s son and that’s what we took,” said DEA spokesman Rusty Payne, noting that the DEA is working separately to confirm the man’s identity.
Pacheco showed The Associated Press what she said were her husband’s voting credential and driver’s license. The man bears only slight resemblance to a photograph of Guzman’s son recently issued by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Pacheco said the couple and their 1-year-old were sleeping in their home in Zapopan, an upscale suburb of the western city of Guadalajara, when marines kicked in the door and arrested her husband and his half-brother, 19-year-old Kevin Daniel Beltran Rios. The men were found with a grenade launcher and four grenades, two assault rifles, two pistols and $135,000 in cash, the navy said. Pacheco said there were no drugs or guns, but the family did have the cash because of a recent home sale. Another lawyer said the government planted the weapons.
The possible misidentification could be embarrassing for both countries in the cat-and-mouse game they are playing with Guzman, who has been on the run since escaping from a Mexican prison in a laundry cart in 2001. Both countries were conducting an intensified manhunt for Guzman. Mexican authorities said they narrowly missed him in February as he was vacationing in the Baja resort of Los Cabos under the nose of heavy security during an international meeting of foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
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